The move to induct 10 Congress MLAs in Goa in the BJP has been panned by some within the ruling party, including late CM Manohar Parrikar’s son Utpal. Taking a dim view of the developments, Utpal said what has happened is “definitely a different path” from the one his father had taken. "I knew on March 17 this year, when my father passed away, that it was the end of that path. But Goans learnt about it yesterday," Utpal said here Thursday.
“Words like commitment and trust were over in the BJP on March 17,” he said, reacting to the induction of 10 Cong MLAs in BJP. Utpal was a contender for BJP ticket for Assembly bypoll after Parrikar’s death, but the BJP did not field him from the seat represented by his father for over two decades.
Utpal said the Goa BJP has moved in a “new direction” after the demise of his father, who was a towering figure in politics of the coastal state. On Wednesday, 10 of the 15 Congress MLAs in Goa, led by Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Chandrakant Kavlekar, split and merged with the BJP, increasing the ruling party’s strength to 27 in the 40-member House.
The Congress, which had emerged as the single-largest party after the 2017 Assembly polls with 17 seats, now has just five legislators in the House after the dramatic development.
Utpal said the commitment given by the BJP to the coalition partners while forming the government in 2017 under his father’s leadership should be honoured.
“Words like trust and commitment which were core of the BJP during Manohar Parrikar’s time ceased to exist on March 17 (when the then chief minister died),” he told PTI. The BJP has taken a “new direction” after March 17 and only time will tell whether it is on the right path, he said.
Utpal said he would continue to be in the BJP and support party workers. Former Goa BJP chief Rajendra Arlekar also said he was disturbed by the recent political developments in the state.
“Countless BJP workers from the state are calling me to know the rationale behind such a decision. The local party unit is heading on a totally incorrect path.
“We cannot endorse expansion of the party in such a manner,” Arlekar, a former minister, said.
The induction of Atanasio Monserratte, who defeated BJP candidate Siddharth Kunkolienkar in the Panaji bypoll, has angered some party leaders and sympathisers given his past.
During the bypoll campaign, Monserratte, a former minister, was targeted over being charge-sheeted in a case of alleged rape of a minor girl in 2016. The controversial politician claimed he was innocent and the rape case against him was “politically motivated”.
Shefali Vaidya, a rightwing columnist and blogger who is followed by 3.89 lakh people on Twitter, said people were asking why was she so angry about BJP accepting “filth like accused rapist Monserrate” into the party in Goa.
“My dad gave a full decade of his life fighting the Portuguese. Did he do it so that Goa CM Pramod Sawant could induct perverts into the party that claims to be different?” Vaidya said. Giriraj Pai Vernekar, a former aide of Manohar Parrikar, also took to social media to express his concern.
“After Parrikar’s demise, we were already feeling lost. This development has made it clear that the BJP we supported because of Parrikar has become a replica of the Congress, within months of his demise,” he said.
“I have repeatedly said that Goa BJP needs new leadership at the organisation level and today, I stand vindicated. It is time we identify traitors within the party and hunt them down,” Vernekar added.