Sitting MLAs, aspirants disrupt Goa BJP outreach meets

It has been far from smooth sailing for the Goa BJP during its ongoing Assembly constituency outreach programmes, with sparks flying at several meetings between sitting MLAs and aspirants keen on contesting the upcoming polls, scheduled to be held in early 2022.

After intense sparring between former Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and sitting BJP MLA Dayanand Sopte at a constituency outreach meeting last month, state Bharatiya Janata Party president Sadanand Shet Tanavade on Thursday had to face a few uncomfortable moments in the company of the party’s sitting MLA from Cumbharjua, Pandurang Madkaikar and another ticket claimant Siddesh Naik, who is the son of Union Minister Shripad Naik.

Madkaikar, in his speech at the function, staked a claim for Cumbharjua, chiding his rivals, who, he claimed, were even spreading rumours about him dying, to ensure that he did not land up with a ticket.

“Even now, rumours are being spread about me being unwell, that I cannot walk and that I would not be contesting elections. I am telling all my workers. I will definitely contest these elections. Now Sadanand bhai and BJP have to decide whether they want me as MLA,” Madkaikar said in presence of Naik and Tanavade.

“Poll winds are blowing in our constituency. A lot of rumours are being spread about me in the constituency on purpose by selfish individuals. Some people believe that they will not be able to do much as long as Bhau Madkaikar is around. Some of them even spread the rumours that Bhau died when I was in hospital. But they were not successful,” he added.

Over the last few months, a clash of sorts seems to be emerging in two sections of candidate aspirants within the ruling party — the loyal faithful and the new imports.

Madkaikar, a former Congress MLA, joined the BJP ahead of the 2017 Assembly polls, while Naik, whose father is one of the senior-most leaders of the saffron party in Goa, has been gradually staking claim to the Cumbharjua seat for some time now.

A similar tussle occurred in the Mandrem Assembly constituency, where Chief Minister Pramod Sawant was caught in a bind between former Chief Minister Parsekar and new BJP entrant Dayanand Sopte.

During the constituency outreach event on August 24, Parsekar lashed out at the sitting MLA Sopte — who joined the BJP in 2018 — while Sopte expressed outrage at Parsekar, accusing the latter of anti-party activity.

Sawant at the time, was forced to toe a fine balanced line, to assuage both camps.

“I cannot directly declare the ticket. At the right time the (party’s) central committee will decide… Even my ticket will be declared by the central committee… I went to the meeting called by the ex-CM and he explained his issues to me. Just because he has expressed these issues, that does not mean you have to fear. Dayanand Sopte is an old BJP worker. He supported the BJP and maintained a word of honour given by former CM Manohar Parrikar. Sopte was with BJP when the party needed him,” Sawant had said.

At a meeting held in the Mayem Assembly constituency last month, the Chief Minister was also booed by BJP supporters who were expressing their ire against the sitting party MLA.

According to state BJP chief Tanavade, the constituency outreach programme had nothing to do with distribution of tickets and that party workers had the freedom to claim election tickets.

“We are not saying do not contest. But what we insist on is that once the election procedure is complete, everyone should stand behind one candidate… This tour is not about finalisation of tickets,” he said.