Manohar Parrikar to contest in bypoll from Panaji

Panaji: Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar will contest from the Panaji legislative assembly seat for the upcoming bypoll, state BJP president Vinay Tendulkar said on Wednesday.
Parrikar, a former Defence Minister and currently a member of the Rajya Sabha was rushed back to state politics in March.

He leads the Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government in Goa, but is not an elected member of the 40-member state legislative assembly.

“The party has decided that Parrikarji should contest from Panaji. Accordingly sitting Panaji MLA Sidharth Kunkolienkar has voluntarily decided to step down,” Tendulkar told reporters.

Earlier, there was speculation that the four-time Chief Minister could contest from the Curchorem assembly seat in South Goa, which elected BJP legislator Nilesh Cabral in the February 4 elections.

Cabral, along with three other MLAs, including Kunkolienkar, a Parrikar protege, had expressed willingness to resign as legislators to facilitate Parrikar’s entry into the state assembly.

Parrikar has been elected to the Panaji state assembly seat without a break since 1994.

He had to vacate the seat in 2014, when while serving as Chief Minister, he was elevated to the Union Cabinet as the Defence Minister.

The state will also witness another bypoll in Valpoi, after the newly elected Congress MLA Vishwajit Rane resigned from the party, his legislatorship and joined the BJP before being appointed to the state cabinet as Health Minister.

Currently, while the Congress has 16 legislators, the BJP has 13.

The BJP came to power in March by aligning with regional parties namely the Goa Forward and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and three Independent MLAs.