Manohar Parrikar’s run in the crucial Panaji bypoll gets easier with a potential opposition candidate joining the NDA
Manohar Parrikar knows he must win the August 23 Panaji by-election to remain chief minister of Goa. It had all seemed a big challenge until July 25, when Atanasio Monserrate, the opposition Congress’s most likely choice against Parrikar, joined the Goa Forward Party, an ally of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
Panaji had been abuzz that Parrikar would have a tough time if challenged by Monserrate, particularly owing to the chief minister’s vacillation over the shifting of offshore casinos, illegal mining and the Vishva Hindu Parishad’s call for a ban on beef consumption in the state. Monserrate, known for his politicking skills, is very popular. His wife Jennifer is a Congress MLA from neighbouring Taligaon, and a front he heads is in power in the Panaji Municipal Corporation. But an astute Parrikar used his personal rapport with Monserrate to cajole him into the NDA fold.
Stumped by the development, Goa Congress chief Shantaram Naik had proposed former Panaji mayor Ashok Naik as a candidate against Parrikar. Naik, who is known for his clean image, quit the BJP in November 2016 to join the Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM), an outfit floated by RSS workers and sympathisers to make Konkani mandatory in primary education in Goa. After Naik turned down the Congress’s offer, the party has finalised its state spokesperson, Girish Chodankar, as
STEADY COURSE Manohar Parrikar inside the Goa assembly