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India

Family Comes First In Goan Politics For BJP, Congress

While the BJP is all set to bury its ties with the Manohar Parrikar legacy, the Congress has roped in the Lobo family.

Utpal Parrikar, son of late former CM Manohar Parrikar. (Image: Twitter/ANI)

New Delhi: Manohar Parrikar was the tallest leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the tiny state of Goa. He single-handedly built the party in the state and led the first BJP majority government in Goa in 2012.

Such was Parrikar’s stature in the party that he even called BJP stalwart LK Advani a ‘rancid pickle’ as he backed then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi for the prime minister’s post. Modi repaid that by handpicking Parrikar to join his Cabinet as the defence minister.

Seven years later and three years after his death, the BJP is all set to bury its ties with the Parrikar legacy keeping his son Utpal out of the race for a party ticket from the family seat of Panjim.

Parrikar’s son was in line for a party ticket when his father passed away in 2019. The BJP, however, felt Utpal was too inexperienced for the fight and chose to give the ticket to Parrikar’s aide Siddharth Kuncalinekar.

ALSO READ: Utpal Parrikar Quits BJP, To Contest From Panaji As Independent Candidate

In a tough fight the BJP lost the election to strongman Atanasio Monserrate who fought on a Congress ticket. That was when the BJP, smelling a possible coup on its government in the state, engineered the mother of all defections in Indian politics getting as many as 10 MLAs from Congress.

That coup was all thanks to two men Monserrate and Vishwajeet Rane who had also been in the Congress earlier.

In a 40-member house, the BJP knows that it needs every MLA on its side, so this time they have played their cards right.

Gone out of the window is the one family one ticket principle that the BJP swears by. The party has given tickets to both Monserrate and his wife Jennifer as well as to Vishwajeet Rane and his wife Divya.

Monserrate, known as Babush, is accused in the alleged sexual assault of a minor and has other cases against him but along with his wife has sway on at least six seats including the capital city of Panjim.

Dumping him for Utpal Parrikar would have crippled the BJP’s chances especially amongst the Christian voters, since the party had already cut ties with another strongman Michael Lobo.

In the case of the Ranes, the importance of the family that has had clout over Goan politics since its liberation in 1961 cannot be underplayed.

Devendra Fadnavis, BJP’s Goa in charge, tried his best to wean away the elder statesman Pratapsingh Rane from the Congress even offering him MLA status for life. But having failed in that attempt, the BJP kept the ticket within the family, offering it to Divya Rane.

Strangled by defections, the Congress roped in the Lobo family. Goa’s richest legislator Michael Lobo and his wife Delilah have been given tickets while his key aide has also got the Congress endorsement.

In Goa, family matters more than ethics or ideology, MLAs are known to shift loyalties faster than the sea waves and even an electoral win for a particular party is no guarantee of loyalty.

In all this are left the voters who must now choose the lesser evil.