Goa: Manohar Parrikar's Son Utpal Quits BJP, to Contest From Panaji as Independent

He said that he is ready to withdraw from the poll race if the saffron party fields a "good candidate" from the constituency.

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New Delhi: Denied ticket from Panaji, Utpal Parrikar, former Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar’s son, on Friday quit the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and decided to contest as an independent candidate.

The younger Parrikar will contest the February 14 assembly elections in the state from Panaji, his late father’s constituency. However, he added that he is ready to withdraw from the race if the saffron party fields a “good candidate” from the constituency.

The ruling BJP nominated sitting MLA Atanasio Monserrate from Panaji – which Manohar Parrikar had represented for over two decades. Monserrate is one of ten legislators who had joined the saffron party in July 2019 after quitting the Congress.

“I tried my best to convince my party during the last election (2019 bypoll after Manohar Parrikar’s death) and this election that I enjoy the support of all the workers who have been with this party for the last 30 years. They toiled with my father to build this party and now they are toiling with me. I also enjoy the support of the general population of Panaji. In spite of that I have not been able to get the candidature of Panaji constituency,” Utpal, 40, told the Indian Express after resigning from the BJP on Friday evening.

Parrikar said that the BJP as an organisation is “crumbling” in Goa. “When [BJP chief J.P. Nadda] came to Goa, there were five couples, who had sought party tickets [for the next month’s polls]. Had Manohar Parrikar been alive, not a single male politician would have dared to seek ticket for his wife,” he claimed.

“I was left with no other choice. I have resigned from the party and I would be contesting as an independent from Panaji,” he told the news agency.

He also said that resignation was a formality but the BJP will “always remain in my heart”.

Also read: Ground Report: Goa Wants Change, but Isn’t Sure Who to Vote For

“It is a difficult choice for me, I am doing it for the people of Goa. No one should be worried about my political future, people of Goa will do it,” he said.

The BJP had offered him “other options” (constituencies other than Panaji), Parrikar said.

“I am fighting for the values which I believe in. Let the people of Panaji decide. I cannot negotiate with my party,” he added.

Asked whether he would seek the support of other political parties, he said the only platform for him was the BJP.

Parrikar also claimed that denying a ticket to him is similar to the situation in 1994, when attempts were made to throw his father out of the party. “The one who has been witness to the history will understand what I am saying. It was the time when the BJP was trying to establish itself in areas where the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) was prominent,” he said.

“Those who have been with the party since then will know what I am saying. That time, Manohar Parrikar could not be thrown out because he enjoyed the support of the people,” he said, adding that “those people” (who were against his father) are still in the party holding “high positions”.

On Thursday, the BJP’s Goa in-charge Devendra Fadnavis had said while releasing the first list of candidates that the party offered some other seats to Utpal, but he was not willing to contest from any of them.

Earlier in the day, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said his party, which had formed a tie-up with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) for the Goa elections, would support Parrikar if he promised not to back the BJP after the elections.

On Thursday, Aam Aadmi Party leader and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had slammed the BJP for adopting a “use and throw” policy regarding the Parrikar family and invited Utpal to join his party.

(With PTI inputs)