Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar will contest the Panaji by-election scheduled on August 23, state unit BJP president Vinay Tendulkar said today, hours after the Election Commission announced the poll schedule. Though Parrikar’s candidature from the seat was almost certain since the time he resigned as Defence Minister to take charge of Goa in March this year, the Congress is yet to finalise its nominees for both Panaji and Valpoi seats. The bypolls were necessitated due to resignations given by the BJP’s sitting MLA Siddharth Kuncolienkar and Congress’ Vishwajeet Rane, from Panaji and Valpoi seats, respectively. Kuncolienkar had resigned apparently to vacate the seat for Parrikar. While from Valpoi the BJP will field Rane, the son of veteran Congress leader Pratapsinh Rane, who had crossed over to the BJP soon after the trust vote held in March. He currently holds Health ministry in the BJP-led state government.
“We were expecting dates of the bypolls to be bit earlier as the state will be celebrating Ganesh festival on August 25. Nonetheless, we are well prepared to face the contests,” Tendulkar told PTI. He said Parrikar would be in fray from Panaji seat and Vishwajit Rane from Valpoi. “Their names are already decided. BJP’s Parliamentary board will make formal announcement soon,” he said. Tendulkar said the party, which has 12 MLAs in the truncated House of 38, would emerge victorious on both the seats.
Parrikar is currently a Rajya Sabha member from Uttar Pradesh. As he is not an MLA, he has to get elected on the House within six months of becoming chief minister. He took oath in March. However, the Congress is still to find suitable candidates for both the seats. Former Congress minister Atanasio Monserratte, whose name was believed to be in reckoning as the party nominee for Panaji constituency, recently crossed over to the Goa Forward Party (GFP) headed by Vijai Sardesai. GFP is an alliance partner of the ruling BJP.
“We are yet to decide the candidates (for the bypolls). The Congress will contest both the seats and will emerge as the winner,” said Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) president Shantaram Naik. According to sources in the party, former Goa Home minister Ravi Naik’s son Roy is emerging as a front-runner for Valpoi bypoll. However, the Congress is yet to find a suitable candidate for the Panaji bypoll.