Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar with his supporters on the way to file nomination papers for Panaji seat by-election last week. He won by almost 5000 votes.(PTI)
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar with his supporters on the way to file nomination papers for Panaji seat by-election last week. He won by almost 5000 votes.(PTI)

Goa bypolls: BJP wins both Valpoi and Panaji seats to take assembly tally to 14

The BJP now has 14 seats in the 40-member Assembly in Goa while the Congress has 16.
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times, Panaji
UPDATED ON AUG 28, 2017 07:36 PM IST

The Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday won the assembly seats of Panaji and Valpoi where by-elections were held on August 23.

While chief minister Manohar Parrikar won by a margin of 4803 votes over Girish Chodankar of the Congress in Panaji, health minister Vishwajit Rane who was contesting on a BJP ticket for the first time scored a thumping victory by 10,066 votes to take the Valpoi seat. Rane defeated Roy Naik, son of senior Congress leader Ravi Naik.

In the February 2017 Assembly elections the BJP had won in Panaji with a margin of around 1000 votes. Babush Monserrate, an independent candidate who had give a tough fight in that election, joined the Goa Forward Party an alliance of the BJP in Goa and pledged his support to Parrikar in the by-elections.

Parrikar, who had been representing Panaji since 1994, had resigned in November 2014 to join the Union cabinet as defence minister. Sidharth Kuncolienkar, who won the subsequent by-poll from Panaji and retained the seat in the 2017 elections, stepped down to make way for Parrikar to contest.

The by-election in Valpoi became necessary after Rane left the Congress and resigned as MLA before joining the ruling party.

“Our candidates had to fight against the odds. There was no infrastructure in Valpoi and Chodankar was standing for the first time from Panaji. But they did a good job,” said Shantaram Naik, state president of Goa Pradesh Congress Committee.

Naik accused the BJP of luring the voters by promising them jobs and indulging in corrupt practices days before the elections were scheduled. “It is a moral defeat for the BJP. They didn’t play it fair,” said Naik.

Parrikar, who had been representing Panaji since 1994, had resigned in November 2014 to join the Union cabinet as defence minister. Sidharth Kuncolienkar, who won the subsequent by-poll from Panaji and retained the seat in the 2017 elections, stepped down to make way for Parrikar to contest.

Read more: Panaji bypoll: Can’t see any opposition, will win with better margin, says Parrikar

Parrikar and Rane in a joint press conference after the results on Monday, said there was a large conspiracy to defeat them.

“All methods were tried … legal, media, social media and bad publicity. Even to the extent that two days before elections, some organisation released an untrue fact-finding report,” said Parrikar.

The chief minister spoke at length about an article which was published in a periodical of the church which described the BJP rule as similar to the Nazi regime. A ‘fact finding’ report by the church had accused Parrikar of failing in his constitutional duty.

“I am calling it untrue. You will realise in the coming days because the government goes by police investigation in which the reality will come before you. I am calling it untrue because who had given the authority to the fact-finding committee about which no one knows. But two days before elections the report was out. They had met the police and police had explained everything to them. Irrespective of that, they released it before two days,” Parrikar said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the BJP’s victory in the by-elections.

After Monday’s result, the BJP’s strength in the House has risen to 14, still two short of the Congress. The Goa Forward Party (GFP) and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) have three MLAs each, NCP one, while three are independent. The BJP-led coalition comprises GFP, MGP and the three independents.

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