The BJP’s Goa unit president, Vinay Tendulkar, and sitting MP and state Congress chief Shantaram Naik today entered the fray for election to the lone Rajya Sabha seat from the coastal state slated for July 21. Tendulkar and Naik filed their nomination papers to state Legislature Secretary N B Subhedar today, the last day for entering the contest. Both the leaders expressed confidence of winning the election though Tendulkar has the numbers in his favour as his party is in power in the state with the support of regional allies. The coalition partners in the Manohar Parrikar-led government — Goa Forward Party (GFP), Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and independents — have pledged support to Tendulkar’s candidature. Tendulkar has the support of 12 legislators from his own party, three each from the GFP and the MGP and three independents in the 40-member assembly, whose effective strength now stood at 38 with two seats remaining vacant.
Naik is expected to get the support of 16 MLAs of his party and the lone Nationalist Congress Party legislator. “All the coalition partners in the government have extended support to my candidature and I expect to have a smooth sailing during the election on July 21,” Tendulkar told reporters. Naik also expressed confidence of winning the election with the support of “like-minded secular forces.”
The two-time Rajya Sabha member from Goa said though the Congress does not have the numbers to get him elected, the secular forces who are with the BJP would vote for him. “I am fully confident that I will be the winner. We will approach all the secular-minded people who are supporting the BJP-led alliance,” Naik said, hinting at a possible dialogue with the BJP’s allies — GFP, MGP and independents — for their support. Naik, who was recently appointed as the president of Goa Pradesh Congress Committee, thanked the party high command for choosing him as the candidate for the Rajya Sabha poll.