BJP declares first 34 candidates for Goa polls, Utpal Parrikar denied Panaji seat

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PANAJI: The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday announced its first list of 34 candidates for the upcoming Goa assembly polls.

The list released by BJP in-charge for Goa elections Devendra Fadnavis and party national general secretary Arun Singh notably excludes former defence minister Manohar Parrikar’s son Utpal Parrikar and includes two husband-wife duos.

The party gave away the Panjim seat, which was claimed by Utpal Parrikar, to sitting MLA Atanasio “Babush” Monserrate.

The party also overlooked former chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar to favour Dayanand Sopte who joined the BJP mid-term from the Congress.

The list includes two husband-wife duos– Babush Monserrate and his wife Jennifer, who is currently the minister of revenue in the Pramod Sawant government, and health minister Vishwajit Rane and his wife Divya Rane. The party, however, denied ticket to wife of deputy chief minister Chandrakant Kavlekar.

While Babush will contest from the state capital of Panaji, Jennifer will contest from their traditional stronghold Taleigao. Vishwajit Rane will contest from his sitting seat Valpoi while his wife will contest from Poriem, currently represented by his father and former chief minister Pratapsingh Rane, putting her on the path of a potential face off with her father-in-law. Rane has been declared as the Congress candidate but is yet to make up his mind on whether to contest or not.

Among those who didn’t make the cut include PWD minister Deepak Prabhu Pauskar (Sanvordem) who defected from the MGP to the BJP, Isidore Fernandes (Canacona) and Filipe Neri Rodrigues (Velim). Sanvordem and Canacona have been given to party old-timers Ganesh Gaonkar and Ramesh Tawadkar, while Velim has been handed to newbie Savio Rodrigues.

New entrants Jayesh Salgaocar (Saligao), Rohan Khaunte (Porvorim) Ravi Naik (Ponda) and Govind Gaude (Priol) have also been rewarded with tickets.

Congress leaders who switched to the BJP Dayanand Sopte, Nilkanth Halarnkar, Francisco Silveira, Subhash Shirodkar, Clafasio Dias have all been given tickets.

Explaining the decision to give the Panaji ticket to the Babush Monserrate by ignoring the claim of Utpal Parrikar, Fadnavis said Parrikar was given “other options.”

“A sitting MLA has been given a ticket in Panaji. Parrikar’s family is our family. They are close to us. I had given Utpal Parrikar two options, from where he could contest. He had refused one option. We are still discussing the second option with him. We all feel he should accept it. BJP has respected the Parrikar family,” Fadnavis said.

It is understood that the party has offered the Bicholim seat to Utpal Parrikar where the party has been struggling to find a candidate ever since assembly speaker Rajesh Patnekar who currently represents the seat withdrew from the race on health grounds.

Immediately after the BJP’s announcement, Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party national convenor Arvind Kejriwal offered a ticket to Parrikar. Earlier, Shiv Sena also offered a ticket to him. Those close to Utpal, however, said he is yet to make up him mind on contesting.

Fadnavis also said that the party has adequate representation for all communities in Goa.

“The world’s biggest party, BJP, has worked for the rights of the dalits and backward classes. In three general seats, ST candidates have been fielded. In one general seat, BJP has fielded an SC candidate. We have a total of 11 OBC candidates, nine minority Christian candidates have also been given tickets and nine are general,” he said.

Defending his decision to offer tickets to husband-wife duos, Fadnavis said that was one of the occupational hazards of politics.

“Babush Monserrate and his wife were elected and joined the BJP. Jennifer Monserrate has her own identity and she is a minister in the BJP government. Vishwajit Rane joined BJP from Congress and got elected on BJP ticket. The Poriem seat is Pratapsingh Rane’s seat. He has been elected from that seat for 50 years on a Congress ticket. The Congress has never lost from there,” Fadnavis said.

He said the BJP has “requested” Pratapsingh Rane not to contest from the seat he has been representing for the past 50 years and instead “give the seat to the BJP” by either contesting on a BJP ticket or withdrawing from the race. The Goa government in December accorded a life-time cabinet minister rank to Pratapsingh Rane.

“He accepted what we said and said that I have aged so I will not contest, Divya Rane will contest instead. Congress will contest the seat, but we will defeat them,” Fadnavis said.

The BJP’s list consists of incumbent MLAs Dayanand Sopte (Mandrem), Nilkanth Halarnkar (Tivim), Joshua D’Souza (Mapusa), Glenn Souza Ticlo (Aldona), Atanasio Monserrate (Panaji), Jennifer Monserrate (Taleigao), Francisco Silveira (Sant Andre), Pramod Sawant (Sanquelim), Vishwajit Rane (Valpoi), Subhash Shirodkar (Shiroda), Milind Naik (Mormugao), Mauvin Godinho (Dabolim), Clafasio Dias (Cuncolim), Chandrakant “Babu” Kavlekar (Quepem) and Nilesh Cabral (Curchorem).

New faces include Pravin Arlekar (Pernem), Premender Vishnu Shet (Maem), Sudesh Bhingi (Marcaim), Krishna Salkar (Vasco da Gama), Datta Borkar (Nuvem), Ulhas Tuenkar (Navelim), Damodar Bandodkar (Benaulim) and Savio Rodrigues (Velim).

Others include former minister Ramesh Tawadkar (Canacona), former MLAs Subhash Phal Dessai (Sanguem), Damodar Naik (Fatorda), Dayanand Mandrekar (Siolim) and Manohar Ajgaonkar, who is now contesting the Margao seat against Leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat having shifted from Pernem.

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