After much delay, the BJP released its first list of 34 candidates for the February 14 state assembly elections for Goa on Thursday. While the list is on expected lines, the major takeaways are that two sitting ministers have been denied tickets, two of the three MLAs seeking tickets for their spouses have been obliged and seven of the declared candidates had won the 2017 polls on a Congress ticket.
Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant will seek re-election from Sanquelim. His ministerial colleagues to be renominated are Viswajit Rane (Valpoi), Mauvin Godhino (Dabolim), Manohar Azgaonkar (Margao) instead of his current seat of Pernem which has gone to MGP import Pravin Arlekar, Jennifer Monseratte (Taleigao) and Govind Gaude (Priol).
Of the 34 names announced, two are women and nine of the candidates belong to the Catholic community.
Former Maharashtra Chief Minister and Goa election in-charge for the BJP, Devendra Fadnavis declared the first list in New Delhi. Names of candidates for St. Cruz, Bicholim, Calangute, Curtorim, Cortalim and Cumjarjua have been held back. At a press conference, Fadnavis said that Panaji ticket aspirant Utpal Parrikar, son of Manohar Parrikar, who was denied nomination from his late father’s constituency, had been offered two other seats and discussions were on.
The six sitting MLAs who were elected on Congress ticket in 2017 but had switched sides to joining the ruling party and have managed a BJP ticket are Neelkant Harlankar (Tivim), Atanasio Babush Monserrate (Panaji), Jennifer Monserrate (Taleigao), Francis Silveira (St. Andre), Clafasio Dias (Cuncolim) and Chandrakant Babu Kavlekar (Quepem). The other MLA elected on a Congress ticket in 2017 is the former chief minister Ravi Naik (Ponda), who recently moved to the BJP.
Two sitting ministers, Water Resources Minister Filipe Neri Rodrigues (elected on a Congress ticket in 2017) and Public Works Department Minister Deepak Pauskar (elected on a MGP ticket in 2017) do not find their names on the list from Velim and Sanvordem constituencies where the BJP has nominated a fresh face in journalist Savio Rodrigues and former MLA and local party leader Ganesh Gaonkar respectively.
Similarly, deputy speaker and Canacona MLA Isidore Fernandes has been denied a ticket in favour of former MLA and minister Ramesh Tawadkar. Fernandes too was elected on a Congress ticket in 2017. MLAs elected on a Congress ticket but resigned to be reelected as BJP MLAs after by-polls in the last term too have found nominations. Dayanand Sopte pipped former chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar for the ticket from Mandrem, while Subhash Shirodkar was given the Shiroda ticket.
Unlike its policy for Uttar Pradesh, the BJP has gone ahead with allotting couple tickets to two of the three party MLAs who were demanding tickets. In Poriem, Dr. Divya Viswajit Rane will take on her father-in-law and Congress heavyweight Pratapsingh Raoji Rane. Dr. Divya is the wife of Health Minister Viswajit Rane, who has been nominated from the neighbouring Valpoi seat.
In addition, the Monserrate couple too have been granted tickets. Savitri Kavlekar, wife of deputy chief minister Chandrakant Babu Kavlekar has however not been considered for a party nomination from Sanguem, where former MLA and local party leader Subhash Phal Dessai has found favour.
For the Mormugao constituency seat, the party has rallied behind former Urban Development Minister Milind Sagun Naik who had to resign following allegations of his involvement in a sex scandal. Naik had to step down after the Goa Congress levelled allegations against him. A case is however yet to be registered against the former minister.
Other prominent names on the BJP list are Rohan Khaunte from Porvorim, Jayesh Salgaonkar from Saligao, Dayanand Mandrekar from Siolim. While Khaunte was an independent legislator in the last legislative assembly, Salgaonkar was with the Goa Forward Party.
The BJP for the first time in the history of Goa’s politics is contesting all the 40 seats in the upcoming elections on the plank of infrastructure development that it has brought to Goa with its double engine government. The outcome of this strategy will be known on March 10.