With Goa heading for a multi-cornered Assembly elections, the ruling BJP on Thursday released its first list of 34 candidates of the total 40 constituencies in the state for the 14 February polls, fielding Chief Minister Pramod Sawant from his Sanquelim seat, even as the party denied the Panaji constituency ticket to Utpal Parrikar, son of party stalwart and ex-CM late Manohar Parrikar.
In the Poriem seat, where Congress candidate and ex-CM Pratap Singh Rane has remained undefeated for the last 50 years, the BJP has fielded his daughter-in-law Deviya Rane as its nominee. His son Vishwajit Rane, Goa health minister, had earlier claimed that he would take on his father in Poriem. His party has however nominated Vishwajit from his existing seat in neighbouring Valpoi.
The BJP’s list has 11 OBC, 9 Christian and 2 women candidates. CM Sawant, who has been elected twice from Sanquelim, is set to contest his seat for the third time.
In Panaji, the saffron party has chosen its sitting MLA Atanasio alias Babush Monserrate as its candidate. Monserrate was one of the 10 Congress MLAs who had defected to the BJP in 2019. While Utpal may have been denied the Panaji seat that his father represented five times, the BJP’s Goa election in-charge and ex-Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis said that the party has offered him another seat.
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“We have given the (Panaji) ticket to the sitting MLA. Utpal Parrikar and Parrikarji’s family is our family. They are very close to us. We gave Utpal Parrikar two more options from where he can contest. He already refused one and discussions about the other are going on with him. We all feel he should agree. The Parrikar family will always be respected by the BJP,” he said.
Utpal, who has been keen on contesting from Panaji, had earlier questioned the party’s decision to give his father’s seat to a candidate with “criminal antecedents”. “Does character not matter? Does integrity not matter?” he had said. AAP supremo and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal Thursday repeated his offer welcoming Utpal to “join and fight elections on AAP ticket”.
The Central Election Committee of the BJP has decided the following names for the ensuing General Elections to the Legislative Assembly of Goa. pic.twitter.com/YjDbnTzsU4
— BJP (@BJP4India) January 20, 2022
In his response to this question, Fadnavis, while releasing the list at a press conference at the party’s national headquarters in New Delhi, said “Sometimes there are occupational hazards in politics too. Babush Monserrate and his wife had both won elections and come to the BJP. Jennifer Monserrate has her own identity and is a minister in the BJP government.”
Explaining the choice of Ranes, Fadnavis said, “As far as Vishwajit Rane is concerned, he resigned, contested an election from BJP and won and the Poriem seat was Pratap Singh Rane ji’s seat. For 50 years, he has won the seat for the Congress. We had requested Pratap Singh Rane ji this time that since Congress is a declining party and it cannot do good for the country, he should give his seat to BJP. So either you contest from BJP or you help BJP. He agreed at the time and said that his age is advancing so he may not contest and Deviya Rane will contest. So if there has been a decision on a sitting seat, the BJP carries it forward. We don’t make new decisions.”
Asked if the Congress and the BJP had an understanding over the Poriem seat, Fadnavis said, “Congress will contest that seat. But we will defeat them. They have even declared a candidate (Pratap Singh Rane).”
Deviya and Jennifer are the BJP’s only two women nominees among the 34 candidates declared Thursday.
BJP general secretary Arun Singh said the party has fielded three Scheduled Tribe candidates and one Scheduled Caste nominee in general seats. “This shows BJP’s commitment to Dalits and weaker sections. Dalits and weaker sections in this country see Prime Minister Modi as a messiah.” he said.
Three-time MLA from Mormugao Milind Naik, who resigned as minister form the Sawant government after being embroiled in a ‘sex scandal’, has been fielded by the BJP again.
Of the 12 members in the Sawant Cabinet, 7 ministers have retained their seats. The party has fielded a journalist Savio Rodrigues from the Velim constituency represented by Water Resources Development Minister Filipe Nery Rodrigues. Deputy Speaker of Goa Assembly Isidore Fernandes has also been dropped, with the BJP fielding former minister and its ST wing leader Ramesh Tawadkar from his constituency, Cancona.
The six seats from where the BJP is yet to announce its candidates, include Lobo’s constituency Calangute, and Bicholim, from where Assembly Speaker Rajesh Patnekar has backed out on health ground.
“While the last 10 years of BJP government has taken Goa to a golden period with stability and development-oriented governance, the Congress, whose governments were synonymous with scams and corruption, wants to resume its loot and sees Goa as a money-making machine,” Fadnavis charged.
“The TMC, another player, brought suitcases and hoped to expand in the state with money, considering Goa as a market and as a state for sale. Despite such efforts, the TMC has not been able to make it because Goans have realised it is an anti-Hindu, anti-national and anti-Goa party,” Fadnavis alleged.
He also attacked the AAP, another player in the fray, charging that the latter also exposed itself to the people with its record of “lies”in Delhi.
Listing the BJP government’s “achievements” in Goa, Fadnavis said it has increased social expenditure from Rs 191 crore to Rs 903 crore in 10 years, from Rs 54 crore to Rs 549 crore for women and child development, even as the central government, he added, has provided Rs 4000 crore for the state’s roads and highways that had only seen a spending of Rs 120 crore during 2009-2014.
“It’s a changed Goa today. The double-engine government has worked for Goa to take it to a golden period,” Fadnavis claimed.
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