Goa’s BJP chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar on Saturday suffered a shock defeat to former party leader Dayanand Sopte who had joined the Congress in 2012.
Parsekar’s loss in Mandrem was one of the biggest setbacks for the BJP in the coastal state where it was facing a stiff challenge from the Congress.
A lifelong BJP politician, Parsekar took over as chief minister in 2014 after Manohar Parrikar left for New Delhi to take up office as the Union minister for defence in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet.
BJP insiders said Parsekar had struggled to impose his will on the party and his government.
During campaiging for election 2017, the BJP leadership had refused to endorse Parsekar as the party’s choice for chief minister. Instead, senior party leaders like Nitin Gadkari and Amit Shah suggested that the high command could ask either Manohar Parrikar or Shripad Naik, another Union minister, to take charge if the party was re-elected.
Sopte, on the other hand, contested his first election in 2007 when he won the Pernem seat on a BJP ticket.
When Pernem was designated as a reserved constituency in 2012, Sopte joined the Congress and contested the Mandrem seat, which he lost to Parsekar, the then chief of the BJP’s Goa unit.
Largely unknown outside his constituency, Sopte is believed to be close to Goa Congress chief Luizinho Faleiro, and is expected to get an ministerial seat, should his party form the government.
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