Goa elections: Manohar Parrikar’s son, Utpal, not fielded in BJP’s first list

The BJP’s decision to nominate Atanasio ‘Babush’ Monserrate from the Panaji seat , which Manohar Parrikar earlier held, set off speculation that Utpal was upset and could quit.
BJP’s Goa in-charge Devendra Fadnavis releases the party’s first list for the upcoming elections, in New Delhi on Thursday. Former Union minister Manohar Parrikar’s son, Utpal, was not mentioned in the list. (Sanchit Khanna/HT)
BJP’s Goa in-charge Devendra Fadnavis releases the party’s first list for the upcoming elections, in New Delhi on Thursday. Former Union minister Manohar Parrikar’s son, Utpal, was not mentioned in the list. (Sanchit Khanna/HT)
Updated on Jan 21, 2022 05:08 AM IST
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ByGerard de Souza, Panaji

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday named 34 candidates for the upcoming assembly elections in Goa but left out the son of former chief minister Manohar Parrikar, Utpal, and nominated nine of the 15 former Congress lawmakers who defected to the ruling party.

The BJP’s decision to nominate Atanasio ‘Babush’ Monserrate from the Panaji seat , which Manohar Parrikar earlier held, set off speculation that Utpal was upset and could quit. The party also named two couples -- Monserrate and his wife, revenue minister Jennifer Monserrate, and health Minister Vishwajit Rane and his wife Divya Rane. In all, the party dropped one sitting lawmaker and two ministers.

“I will discuss with my supporters and let my decision be known soon,” Utpal said.

A week ago, Utpal said he wouldn’t sit idle if the BJP nominated a person “who has criminal antecedents” -- seen as a dig at Monserrate who faces several criminal cases. “The kind of politics that is happening in Goa, I cannot tolerate it. It is not acceptable to me,” Utpal had said.

The ruling BJP defended the decision, saying that the ticket was given to a “sitting MLA”.

“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,” Devendra Fadnavis who is incharge of Goa, said.

Manohar Parrikar, one of the tallest leaders of the state who was also the face of the BJP in Goa for decades, represented the capital Panaji as an MP between 1994 and 2014, when he quit to take charge as the Union Defence Minister. He died in 2019, after which Monserrate won the seat for the Congress but subsequently joined the BJP.

In choosing Monserrate, the party leadership appeared to have rewarded the Monserrates, who helped 10 Congress MLAs join the BJP in 2019.

The party overlooked former chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar in favour of Dayanand Sopte, who joined the BJP from the Congress in October 2018. Savitri Kavlekar, the wife of deputy chief minister Chandrakant Kavlekar, also didn’t find a mention, prompting her to quit the BJP. She later announced that she would contest as an independent. Parsekar, too, has said he is weighing his options.

The BJP is looking to retain Goa in assembly elections scheduled on February 14. In 2017, the BJP got 13 seats and the Congress 17 out of the state’s 40 constituencies. The BJP was able to form the government with the help of the Goa Forward Party, the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and independents.

Party functionaries familiar with developments said Utpal was offered the Bicholim seat where the party has been struggling to find a candidate since assembly speaker Rajesh Patnekar, who currently represents the seat, withdrew from the race on health grounds.

Immediately after the announcement, the Aam Aadmi Party and Shiv Sena both offered tickets to Utpal.

“Goans feel v(ery) sad that BJP has adopted use and throw policy even with Parrikar family. I have always respected Manohar Parrikar ji. Utpal ji is welcome to join and fight elections on AAP ticket,” Kejriwal tweeted.

Chief minister Pramod Sawant hit back. “Hypocrisy! Person whose entire party & politics is based on shallow opportunism should brush up his memory & remind himself of his own filthy comments used against one of the greatest leaders Shri Manohar Bhai Parrikar.”

Monserrate will contest from Panaji, Jennifer from their traditional stronghold Taleigao. Vishwajit Rane will contest from the Valpoi seat that he currently represents; his wife Divya will contest from Poriem, currently represented by Vishwajit’s father and former chief minister Pratapsingh Rane.

Pratapsingh Rane has been named as a candidate for the Congress but he is yet to take a final call.

Defending his decision to offer tickets to the Monserrates, Fadnavis said the criminal cases were an occupational hazard 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.

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Thursday, May 26, 2022