Goa readies for bypoll for Parrikar’s Panaji seat

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Panaji, April 24 (IANS) Even as polling for Goa’s two Lok Sabha seats and three Assembly bypolls ended on April 23, the coastal state is already readying for the bypoll to the Panaji Assembly constituency, which was rendered vacant after the death of former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar.

While Parrikar’s elder son Utpal has expressed his readiness to further his father’s “legacy”, the Congress on Wednesday formally announced its candidate for the Panaji bypoll — former state Education Minister Atanasio Monserrate.

“Congress President Rahul Gandhi has approved the candidature of Atanasio Monserrate as Congress president for the ensuing by-election to the legislative assembly of Goa – Panaji constituency,” All India Congress Committee general secretary Mukul Wasnik said in a statement.

The Panaji Assembly bypoll is scheduled to be held on May 19.

Monserrate, who has party-hopped on numerous occasions in the past, joined the Congress earlier in April after switching over from the ruling Goa Forward party, and has a politically chequered and tainted history.

In 2018, Monserrate was charge-sheeted for allegedly raping a minor girl even as the politician claimed he was framed. He has also been booked for extortion in the past.

Incidentally, Monserrate was sacked from the Congress for anti-party activities in 2015. He was also a cabinet minister in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led coalition government in the early 2000s.

The BJP meanwhile said the process for the selection of a candidate for the Panaji bypoll is on. “We have a process in place for selection of a candidate,” state BJP president Vinay Tendulkar said.

After Parrikar died following a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer, his son in a public message had said that he would like to further his father’s legacy for nation-building.

Parrikar, a former Chief Minister and former Defence Minister, was first elected from Panaji in 1994 and consistently won the seat until 2014, when he was elevated as Defence Minister in the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led cabinet. On his return to state politics in 2017, Parrikar again contested and won from the Panaji seat.

In a subsequent media interaction, Utpal also said that he was willing to take on any responsibility which the BJP asks him to shoulder.

–IANS

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