BJP picks Parrikar’s aide over son for Panaji bypoll

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Panaji, April 28 (IANS) The BJP on Sunday nominated late Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s aide Sidharth Kuncalienkar as its candidate for the Panaji assembly seat bypolls, ignoring the candidature of his son Utpal Parrikar.

Kuncalienkar’s nomination was approved after much delay by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Central Election Committee on Sunday, according to a statement issued by the committee’s secretary J.P. Nadda.

Reacting to the decision, Utpal Parrikar said that one should not be disheartened by obstacles, and that he would do anything which his party directs him to do, which includes campaigning for Kuncalienkar.

Utpal Parrikar had been considered a front-runner for contesting the May 19 bypoll and his name was expected to be announced on Friday, but a public announcement by former Goa RSS chief Subhash Velingkar that he was also entering the contest, resulted in the party opting for Kuncalienkar — who has been elected Panaji MLA twice — instead.

A senior party official said that with the entry of Velingkar into the fray, the contest for the Panaji seat would be a difficult one, something which the party elders did not wish Utpal to face in his debut electoral stint.

Kuncalienkar, a close aide of Parrikar, was first elected MLA in 2015 soon after Parrikar joined Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet as Defence Minister and resigned from the Panaji seat.

In the 2017 assembly election, Kuncalienkar was against elected MLA from Panaji, but had to resign after Parrikar returned to the state as Chief Minister and had to be elected to the state assembly again.

Kuncalienkar will face Atanasio Monserrate of the Congress, Valmiki Naik of the Aam Aadmi Party and Velingkar, who is contesting on a Goa Suraksha Manch ticket.

Utpal Parrikar said: “I was not expecting anything. Whatever party decides I am ready to do. If party says I should sit at home, I will do. They said you should work for the party, so I campaigned (for Lok Sabha polls).”

He also said that his father had also faced obstacles when he started out his journey in politics.

“Obstacles will keep coming. But one should not be disheartened,” he said.

The Congress, however, said that the denial of a ticket to Utpal Parrikar meant that the BJP’s attempts to gain sympathy from Parrikar’s legacy had failed.

“The denail of a ticket to Utpal is a clear indication that the use of late CM Parrikar’s legacy to garner sympathy for the LS and bypolls has had no effect,” party spokesperson Trajano D’Mello said.

–IANS

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