The Congress will announce the names of the party candidates for the next month’s Panaji and Valpoi Assembly byelections in Goa within the next two days. The Congress and other parties will be fielding a common candidate in the August 23 bypoll from Panaji seat against Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar. Former Congress leader and incumbent Health Minister Vishwajeet Rane is the BJP’s pick for the Valpoi bypoll. “We will be announcing the names of our candidates for Panaji and Valpoi seats in a day or two. The process to shortlist the candidates is already underway,” Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) president Shantaram Naik told PTI today.
Though Naik refused to disclose the name of the party nominee, he said former Corporation of City of Panaji (CCP) Mayor Ashok Naik had approached the party to field him from Panaji. “Ashok Naik had approached the party and was given few membership forms. He will get back to us tomorrow,” he said. According to sources, Ashok Naik, who was earlier with the BJP, is likely to join the Congress along with his supporters tomorrow. The party had almost finalised the candidature of former minister Atanasio Monserratte to contest from Panaji, but he left the party to join Goa Forward Party.
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Ashok Naik yesterday said the Congress had approached him with the offer to contest the Panaji bypoll. He claimed several BJP workers are supporting him. The Congress is likely to field Roy Naik, the son of former state home minister Ravi Naik, from Valpoi. The Valpoi bypoll was necessitated after Rane, the son of the Congress veteran Pratapsinh Rane, resigned as the Congress MLA and joined the BJP after the party-led government won the floor test in March this year. Panaji’s sitting MLA Siddharth Kuncolienkar had resigned apparently to vacate the seat for Parrikar who is yet to become a member of the Goa Assembly. The former defence minister, currently a Rajya Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh, has to get elected on the Assembly within six months of taking oath as chief minister. He sworn in as the CM in March this year.