With a little more than six months to go for the assembly polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Goa appears to be facing a problem of plenty.
Ever since central BJP observers like national organising secretaries BL Santosh and CT Ravi have started making the rounds of the coastal state to lay the groundwork for the party for the upcoming polls, a clash of sorts seems to be emerging from two sections of candidate aspirants within the party — the loyal faithful and the new imports.
Former Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, former Sports Minister Ramesh Tawadkar and Sidharth Kuncalienkar, an MLA and a close aide of late Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, among others have all started jostling for a ticket in the upcoming polls, refusing to heed notes of caution from top state BJP leaders and CT Ravi as well.
Their demands for tickets have only grown more shrill, ever since Ravi, last month, held one-to-one consultations with sitting BJP MLAs, nearly half of whom have joined the party from the Congress and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party since 2017.
The most confident salvo was fired by Parsekar, who has said that he has formally informed BL Santosh about contesting the 2022 assembly polls from the Mandrem assembly seat in North Goa.
“I have informed him about my intention to contest the next assembly election,” Parsekar said.
Parsekar’s bete noire, Dayanand Sopte, who defeated the former Chief Minister in 2017 while contesting the polls on a Congress ticket, is now a sitting BJP MLA and is unwilling to cede any ground.
In the Canacona assembly segment, former Sports Minister Tawadkar has now thrown his hat into the ring, demanding a ticket in place of sitting MLA Isidore Fernandes, who was elected on a Congress ticket, but switched to the BJP in 2019.
Kuncalienkar, a former Panaji MLA, has also hinted at his desire to contest the polls at a time when the sitting BJP MLA Atanasio Monserrate — who was elected to the Panaji assembly seat as a Congress MLA — has insisted that he “wants to retire in the BJP”.
Such quibbling also appears to be emerging from at least six other constituencies and is bound to generate heat as the process for finalisation of candidates for the “hot seats” edges closer.
For now, both Ravi and state BJP president Sadanand Shet Tanavade say that it is the right of every party worker to express a desire to contest an election, but they cannot aggressively stake a claim or declare their candidature in public.
“They have not declared (their candidature). They have only expressed their desire. Every party worker has the opportunity to express their desire… It is different. Only the parliamentary board has the right to make such declarations. No one else has it,” according to CT Ravi.
The BJP national general secretary underlined that there was “no confusion” in the party ranks, but added that the names of candidates will be announced only after elections are declared.
Asked how the Goa BJP proposes to strike a balance between claims for a ticket, made by core BJP workers as against the 13 ‘imported’ legislators from the Congress and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party since 2017, Tanavade said that from a party’s perspective, there is no old or new worker.
“Someone who joins the party, becomes a BJP member. BJP tickets cannot be declared. No one can declare their own ticket on their own. As a party president, even I cannot commit to that. We have a system in place for that,” Tanavade said.