Panaji: Goa’s ruling BJP won three out of the four state Assembly bypolls on Thursday but failed to win the prestigious Panaji constituency, which had been held by late Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate and Parrikar’s long-time aide Sidharth Kuncalienkar lost to Congress’ Atanasio Monserrate by 1,758 votes in Panaji. Monserrate polled 8,748 votes against Kuncalienkar’s 6,990 votes. AAP’s Valmiki Naik and Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM) candidate Subhash Velingkar polled 236 and 516 votes, respectively.
However, BJP candidate Subhash Shirodkar won the bypoll for the Shiroda Assembly constituency defeating Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party’s Deepak Dhavalikar by 66 votes.
In the Mapusa Assembly bypoll, BJP’s Joshua D’Souza defeated his closest rival Sudhir Kandolkar of the Congress by 1,113 votes. While D’Souza polled 11,098 votes, Kandolkar got 9,985 votes. In the Mandrem Assemby bypoll, BJP’s Dayanand Sopte won by 4306 votes defeating his nearest rival independent candidate Jit Arolkar.
Commenting after his victory, Monserrate said: “This is a victory of the Congress party and a vote for the development. Panaji has been deprived of development for the past so many years”.
The bypoll for the Panaji Assembly constituency was necessitated following the death of Parrikar in March, after a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer.
Parrikar first won the constituency in 1994 and retained it until 2014, when he was inducted into Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet. In his absence, the seat was represented twice by his aide Kuncalienkar. On his return to state politics in 2018, Parrikar was once again elected Panaji MLA.
The loss is significant for the BJP, which promised to carry forward Parrikar’s legacy in Panaji. The saffron party’s campaign received a setback after it state leadership snubbed his son Utpal Parrikar’s bid for a ticket for the Panaji bypoll.
Utpal Parrikar said the loss was “painful” and added: “In a democracy, collective wisdom always lies with the people. We have to work hard and win back people’s trust.”
Commenting on his loss, AAP’s candidate Valmiki Naik said: “It’s a relief that the BJP, which brought Panaji to its worst condition ever, has finally lost the seat”.