Panaji bypoll emotional affair due to Parrikar: BJP

Panaji: The bypoll to the prestigious Panaji assembly seat, which was represented by four-time Chief Minister and former Defence Minister late Manohar Parrikar from 1994, will be an “emotional” affair, BJP spokesperson Dattaprasad Naik said on Tuesday, saying the party is already poll ready.

The announcement of the bypoll for the Panaji seat on May 19 by the Election Commission (EC) on Tuesday, comes at a time when there is speculation about the former Defence Minister’s son, Utpal, taking over the political mantle of his father.

“Bhai’s (Parrikar) emotion is always connected with the Panaji seat. The BJP is completely prepared. We are always prepared for elections,” Naik told IANS, soon after the EC announced the date for the Panaji bypoll, which was necessitated due to the death of Parrikar on March 17, after a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer.

Parrikar was first elected to the Panaji seat in 1994 and continued to represent the capital constituency, until he was elevated to Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led cabinet in 2014, when he resigned and the seat was subsequently won by his aide BJP’s Sidharth Kuncalienkar.

When Parrikar returned to state politics in 2017, Kuncalienkar resigned as Panaji MLA and Parrikar won the seat yet again as Chief Minister.

After his death, however, there is speculation about Utpal being fielded as the BJP candidate for Panaji, especially after his elder son in a public statement said that he along with his younger brother Abhijat, were keen to carry forward Parrikar’s legacy.

While the Congress has already expressed its readiness for the bypoll, Atanasio Montserrate, who has served as minister in both the Congress and BJP-led coalition governments in the past, has already announced his intentions to contest the Panaji seat.

“I will contest the Panaji seat as an independent candidate,” Montserrate told reporters on Tuesday.

Voting for the two Lok Sabha seats and three other bypolls is scheduled to be held on April 23.