Goa: BJP relieves state spokesperson as dissension deepens in Panaji unit
- Former Goa CM and BJP stalwart Manohar Parrikar's son Utpal admitted he was breaking ranks with the party but stopped short of saying he was rebelling.
The Goa BJP has relieved a party spokesperson of responsibilities as it deals with a widening rift within the ranks of its Panjim unit ahead of the upcoming Panaji city corporation polls.
Party spokesperson Dattaprasad Naik, who joined hands with former MLA Siddharth Kuncalienker, and Utpal Parrikar, the son of former chief minister Manohar Parrikar, has been relieved of his responsibilities, state party president Sadanand Shet Tanavade said in a communique.
The move comes after Naik, Kuncalienker and Utpal fielded their own set of candidates in some of the seats for the polls, claiming it was their responsibility as citizens to back ‘good’ candidates for the polls.
Municipal elections in Goa are not held on party lines but political parties announce their ‘panels’ of candidates that are often backed by the local MLA.
In the case of Panaji, the BJP lost its hold of the state capital -- a seat former chief minister Manohar Parrikar represented for five terms, barring the period he was the country’s union defence minister, until his death in 2018 -- to the Congress candidate Atanasio Monserrate in the bye-elections to the seat.
A few months later, Monserrate along with nine other Congress MLAs jumped ship to the BJP and it is he, with the backing of the state party leadership, who is now calling the shots with the BJP-backed panel in the city.
Utpal admitted he was breaking ranks with the party but stopped short of saying he was rebelling against the party.
“My stand is clear. I have given support to individuals on a personal level. My support is personal as a citizen. I have raised objections with the party president,” Utpal announced at a press conference.
“If I wanted to rebel, I would have rebelled at the time of assembly elections. Many people quit the party after being denied a ticket. I did not. I have the political goodwill of the people of Panaji,” Utpal said.
Kuncalienker and Naik had also announced their support to candidates other than those officially endorsed by the local MLA.
State BJP president Tanavade, however, said that the party would sort out all internal differences over the coming days, claiming that the decision of members of the party to break ranks was taken in haste.
“These are differences within the BJP family. We will all soon start working together. Such issues are going to crop up as the party expands, but will not affect our chances of winning in any way,” Tanavade said.