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This article was first published 2 years ago  » News » Utpal Parrikar Exposes BJP's Goa Faultlines

Utpal Parrikar Exposes BJP's Goa Faultlines

By Aditi Phadnis
February 05, 2022 10:56 IST
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The BJP has the cadres, organisation, and extensive funding.
But in the absence of a towering political personality like Manohar Parrikar, the Goa outcome is hard to predict.

IMAGE: Utpal Parrikar, the late Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar' son, offers prayers at the Mahalaxmi Temple in Panaji. Photograph: ANI Photo

It is just one seat. But it reveals many political faultlines.

All eyes are on the Panjim assembly seat in the 40-member Goa legislative assembly after former chief minister Manohar Parrikar's son Utpal quit the Bharatiya Janata Party and announced his intention to contest the seat as an Independent candidate when he was denied a BJP nomination.

This, and former CM Laxmikant Parsekar's resignation from the party, has caused upheaval in the BJP.

What spices up the Panjim contest is not just the entry of Congress newcomer into the BJP, Atanasio Monserrate, whom the BJP preferred over its own member, Utpal, but also the presence of the Shiv Sena, which announced it would field Shailendra Velingkar from the seat if Utpal does not contest, before deciding to back the latter.

Velingkar, former Goa Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Subhash Velingkar's son, has floated the Bharat Mata ki Jai -- an outfit that the former RSS chief says is 'dedicated to defeating the BJP'.

Velingkar says it will come as no surprise if this time in the assembly, the BJP gets members of the legislative assembly in single digits. The Congress has put up Elvis Gomes, who was previously in the Aam Aadmi Party.

According to Velingkar, the fight in Panjim and elsewhere in Goa will be primarily between the Congress and the BJP -- and that section of the BJP which largely comprises defectors from Congress, like Monserrate.

Velingkar has a lot at stake. In 2016, he raised the banner of revolt against 'compromises' made by the BJP on a variety of issues ranging from Goa's language policy to the Parrikar government's stand on mining and gambling.

He was sacked by the RSS for complaining that the ideological purity of the BJP-RSS was being diluted by defectors from the Congress.

Velingkar launched the Goa Suraksha Manch that was disbanded and a new overtly political organisation replaced it -- the BMJ party.

In 2016, partly because of the indefatigable efforts put in by Velingkar and other RSS workers, the BJP's tally in Goa came down drastically from 21 in 2012 to 13 in 2017.

However, Parrikar was still able to cobble together a government largely by winning over Congress MLAs after the Congress fell short of a majority, winning 17 seats.

Velingkar believes that was a short-term compromise by the BJP to somehow form the government and this time around, the BJP might have to pay the price.

Although Utpal has no independent base and is expected to rely on the appeal of his father, his low-key style of campaigning could strike a chord with uncommitted voters.

On the other hand, the BJP has the cadres, organisation, and extensive funding.

But in the absence of a towering political personality like Parrikar, the Goa outcome is hard to predict. Current CM Pramod Sawant, who replaced Parrikar after his death, enjoys the support of the BJP brass in Delhi and the Sangh, but many of his own MLAs could turn against him.

One such is Parsekar, who had served as Goa CM after Parrikar moved to Delhi to take charge as Union defence minister in 2014.

In the 2017 assembly polls, he was defeated from the Mandrem seat by the Congress's Dayanand Sopte, who later joined the BJP. The party announced his name as the BJP candidate from Mandrem.

Parsekar has his roots in the RSS, has been a three-time BJP MLA and former Goa BJP president. He has been with the BJP for around 32 years.

His resignation from the party and resolve to contest as an Independent will affect the chances of the party in a state where margins of victory are wafer thin, because of the small size of constituencies.

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Aditi Phadnis
Source: source