Now that the BJP has completed a near clinical sweep of the state’s only municipal corporation, in Panaji, once former Chief Minister late Manohar Parrikar’s bastion, the party is prepping to act against party rebels, one of whom includes Parrikar’s son, Utpal.
Utpal, former BJP spokesperson Dattaprasad Naik and former Parrikar aide and ex Panaji MLA Sidharth Kuncalienkar were three senior BJP office bearers who’ve been accused of working against several of the candidates sponsored by the BJP for the March 20 municipal polls for the Corporation of the City of Panaji.
While the BJP panel backed by its MLA from Panaji, Atanasio Monserrate, won 25 out of the 30 seats, state party president Sadanand Shet Tanavade on Monday said, that party workers actively supporting a rival panel supported by the Aam Aadmi Party and Congress was a grave issue.
“We will discuss these results and take action against those who are guilty. If they had contested on their own it is another matter, but they supported a rival panel backed by the Congress and AAP, that is a serious thing,” Tanavade told reporters, when asked about proposed action by the party against rebels.
On Monday, former mayor and a victorious BJP sponsored municipal poll candidate Shubham Chodankar blamed the rebel group, including Utpal Parrikar, of working against him.
“I have been at the forefront of every election contested by Manohar bhai. It was not expected… Utpal Parrikar directly campaigned against me at the last minute to defeat me, this is worth condemning. He still has time. He should stop listening to detractors,” Chodankar said.
Utpal has repeatedly insisted that he has not supported any rival panel.
“I have given support to individuals on a personal level… Other politicians have political muscle power. I have political goodwill of the people of Panaji,” he had maintained in a recent media interaction.
Parrikar, who died in office in 2019, has been synonymous with Panaji’s politics since 1994, when he was first elected as Panaji MLA. However, in the later years he faced a stiff challenge from Atanasio Monserrate, whose political career has been marked by party promiscuity.
While Parrikar was forced to cut political deals with Monserrate, who faces a string of criminal cases –including a rape charge — to retain his Panaji seat, the BJP’s decision (post Parrikar’s death) to formally induct Monserrate into the party, has led to the rebellion within the party’s ranks in Panaji.
Dattaprasad Naik, who along with Utpal, has been accused of not fully supporting the BJP panel, said that he was not against the BJP but against Monserrate, whose son Rohit, has also made a debut in politics by winning a municipal seat.
“I am not against BJP. I have shed blood and sweat for the BJP. I am not scared of any action. Take any action that you want, kill me if you want, but I will be fighting the Monserattes head on for the 2022 assembly polls too,” Naik said.
While Monserrate and the BJP have found the going easy in the municipal polls, the simmering resentment and rebellion in the local BJP ranks may well spill over into the dynamics of the state assembly polls, which are scheduled to be held in early 2022.