BJP's Goa list sparks rebellion: 4 leaders resign, ex-CM says ‘party taking me for granted'

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BJP’s Goa list sparks rebellion: 4 leaders resign, ex-CM says ‘party taking me for granted’
© Provided by The Print

Mumbai: The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) list of candidates in Goa has sparked off an internal rebellion, with at least four leaders — a sitting minister, an ex-CM’s son, the deputy speaker of the assembly and the wife of one of the two deputy CMs — splitting from the party, and another leader, a former chief minister, considering doing the same.

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Having been denied BJP tickets, these leaders are now planning to contest as rebel candidates in their constituencies, all four confirmed to ThePrint. The BJP Thursday announced its list of 34 candidates for the elections to the 40-member assembly, scheduled to be held on 14 February.

The rebels include Utpal Parrikar, son of former Goa CM Manohar Parrikar. Lobbying for a ticket from his father’s erstwhile constituency of Panaji, he had argued that this was the wish of karyakartas (party workers) close to his father, and that the late CM’s legacy ought to be respected. The BJP, however, chose to give the seat to sitting MLA Atanasio Monserratte, who had won from the constituency as a Congress candidate after Manohar Parrikar’s death, and jumped to the BJP in 2019.

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“I will go ahead without the BJP. I will contest as an Independent from Panaji,” Utpal Parrikar told ThePrint.

The other BJP leaders who resigned between Thursday and Friday are Deepak Pauskar, who was public works department (PWD) minister in the Pramod Sawant-led government, Isidore Fernandes, who was deputy speaker, and Savitri Kavlekar, wife of deputy CM Chandrakant Kavlekar.

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Senior BJP leader and former CM Laxmikant Parsekar is also upset with the party for not giving him candidature from his constituency of Mandrem, and is thinking of contesting as an Independent. He told ThePrint that he would make a final decision Saturday.

However, BJP leaders ThePrint spoke to claimed that the resignations by “disgruntled leaders” would not impact the party’s electoral prospects.

Also read: ‘Not right to shift parties for power’ — why Congress wants to end ‘virus of defection’ in Goa

‘BJP took me for granted’

Parsekar, who became CM in 2014 when Manohar Parrikar was elevated to the Union cabinet as India’s defence minister, wanted to contest from his constituency of Mandrem, which he had represented for three consecutive terms from 2002 to 2017. He had lost the seat in 2017 to the Congress’s Dayanand Sopte by a margin of 7,119 votes, wide by Goa standards. 

Sopte resigned as MLA in 2018, joined the BJP, and won the bypoll in 2019 from the same constituency. Parsekar was upset with Sopte’s induction as well his by-election candidature even then. The BJP has now nominated Sopte again from Mandrem for the upcoming election.

“I am on the verge of taking a decision. Most probably, I will be stepping down (from the BJP). I have received an overwhelming response from my karyakartas. Earlier, I was known as a BJP stalwart. But even now, if I move out and contest as an Independent, people are willing to support me in large numbers. People from other parties are also willing to support me,” Parsekar told ThePrint.

“One foolish thing about me is that I have always been a disciplined supporter of the party. In the future also, I will continue to serve the party. This particular reaction of mine is in response to the party taking me for granted, saying, arre yeh toh kahin nahin jayega (he will not go anywhere),” he added.

Also read: ‘Not my dad’s property to give away’: Congress’ ex-CM Rane denies helping BJP in Goa’s Poriem

‘Will never join the BJP again’

Former PWD minister Pauskar was a Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party MLA from Sanvordem and joined the BJP in 2019. He told ThePrint that he would never go back to either the MGP or the BJP now.

“When I joined the BJP in 2019, the party said it would give me candidature for the 2022 polls from my constituency. It went back on its word. I will now contest as an Independent. I have a lot of support. I will definitely win,” he said.

“In the future, if I have to for the development of my constituency, I don’t mind giving outside support to the BJP as an Independent MLA, but I will never join the party again,” he added.

The BJP has nominated Ganesh Gaonkar from Sanvordem.

Isidore Fernandes, who won the 2017 state assembly election as a Congress candidate from Canacona and joined the BJP in 2019, told ThePrint that he “had to resign after the BJP denied candidature”. The BJP has nominated Ramesh Tawadkar from the constituency.

“I am still talking to my supporters. If they want, I will contest the election as an Independent,” Fernandes said.

Savitri Kavlekar told ThePrint the BJP had denied her candidature from her preferred constituency of Sanguem, saying it had a policy of giving tickets to only one member of a family. Her husband, Chandrakant Kavlekar, has been given candidature from Quepem. 

“They said they will nominate only one member per family, but the BJP has given tickets to two members from the Rane family and the Monserratte family. So, I have resigned from my post as vice-president of the BJP state women’s wing, and from membership of the BJP. I will contest as an Independent from Sanguem,” Savitri Kavlekar said.

She added that her husband would continue to be a BJP member and contest as a BJP candidate. “His politics is different, and mine is different,” she said.

The Kavlekars were both formerly Congress leaders. Savitri had contested the 2017 assembly polls as a Congress candidate from Sanguem, but had lost the election with Independent MLA Prasad Gaonkar winning the seat and the BJP’s Subhash Phal Desai emerging as a close second. The BJP has now nominated Phal Desai from the seat. 

‘Rebels will have no impact on BJP’

These resignations will have no impact on the BJP, said its Goa state president Sadanand Shet Tanavade.

“These are disgruntled leaders who have resigned because they did not get BJP tickets. With regards to Utpal Parrikar, the central leadership team was in touch with him, giving him options. I don’t know what went wrong. I had only met him two times and urged him to stick with the BJP,” Tanavade told ThePrint.

Former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis, the BJP’s Goa in-charge, had said Thursday that the party had given Utpal Parrikar a choice of two constituencies other than Panaji.

With regards to Parsekar, Tanavade said, “He has not resigned from the party. He is a senior, valued member of the BJP. He is a former CM. I don’t want to comment any more than that.”

(Edited by Rohan Manoj)

Also read: BJP is a shop, has forgotten ethics of Parrikar era — Goa minister lashes out at own party

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