The BJP rebel and son of former chief minister the late Manohar Parrikar, local heavyweight Atanasio Monserrate of BJP, AAP’s former chief ministerial candidate for Goa now contesting on a Congress ticket, and an AAP nominee trying his luck for the third time – all are in the fray from Panaji constituency, making it one of the capital contests as Goa votes on Monday.
The ruling BJP has fielded its sitting MLA Mr Monserrate, a former Congressman who had defeated the saffron party candidate in 2019 but joined the BJP in 2020.
Opposing him is Utpal Parrikar, the son of the late chief minister and BJP stalwart Manohar Parrikar. Upset over being denied a ticket by the BJP, Parrikar junior is making his electoral debut as an independent candidate.
In an interview with PTI earlier this week, Utpal Parrikar pointed to the criminal cases registered against his main rival and said that he wanted the party (BJP) to give a clean candidate.
Utpal Parrikar said that no work had taken place in two years in Panaji which has become a “family affair” – Mr Monserrate’s wife Jeniffer is an MLA from neighboring Taliegao and his son is the mayor of Panaji.
“Panaji finds itself languishing and risks moving towards a dystopian city,” he said. The state’s capital battles with parking problems, a major issue faced by every growing urban center of the country, he said.
Panaji loses out on this, he added.
“Panaji should have got its free share of jobs. My voice would make the state’s examination process for recruitment becomes fair. My trust would also make Panaji more investor-friendly so even the private sector jobs can be generated here,” Utpal Parrikar said.
Despite several attempts, Mr Monserrate was unavailable for comment.
The Congress has fielded Elvis Gomes. A former bureaucrat, Mr Gomes was Aam Aadmi Party’s chief ministerial candidate in 2017, but later fell out with his party and joined the Congress.
On the other hand, the AAP has fielded Valmiki Naik for the third time from the seat – in 2017, 2019 bypoll and now in 2022.
Like Utpal Parrikar, Mr Naik too pointed out the deteriorating living conditions in Panaji.
He said if elected he would focus on employment in the Panaji constituency and organize ward sabhas that can enable citizens to solve their issues in the presence of the MLA and officials.
“Panaji has been slipping in the Ease of Living Index. I want to bring in the top 10 cities in the country in the first five years and number one in the next term,” Mr Naik told PTI.
Also in the fray is Rajesh Redkar (50) from the Revolutionary Goans Party (RGP).
According to the Election Commission data, Panaji has 22,408 registered voters – 10,531 male and 11,877 female.
The constituency houses the Goa Secretariat, offices of all major departments, the Chief minister’s residence, and consulates. A large part of the constituency has commercial areas.
But its living conditions are deteriorating, alleged Opposition candidates.
Since 2012, Panaji has seen five MLAs.
After Manohar Parrikar vacated the seat in 2014 to join the Union Cabinet, Sidharth Kuncalienker won the seat in a bypoll.
He won the seat again in the 2017 Assembly polls but vacated it for Manohar Parrikar who returned to the state as the chief minister.
In 2019, following the death of Manohar Parrikar, Atanasio Monserrat won the polls on a Congress ticket.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)