Halfway Home?

Manohar Par­rikar’s run in the cru­cial Panaji by­poll gets eas­ier with a po­ten­tial op­po­si­tion can­di­date join­ing the NDA

India Today - - STATES - By Ki­ran D. Tare

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

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