Panaji, Jan 20 (IANS): Winnability at all cost appears to have been the thumb rule the BJP appears to have used in its declaration of first list of 34 candidates for the February 14 Assembly polls in Goa.
The list which was formally announced at the party's national headquarters in Delhi on Thursday includes tickets to two couples -- Vishwajit and Divya Rane from Valpoi and Poriem Assembly constituencies and Atanasio and Jennifer Monserrate from Panaji and Taleigao Assembly constituencies. The BJP has however denied a ticket to the wife of Deputy Chief Minister Chandrakant Kavlekar, Savitri, who was claiming a BJP ticket to contest from the Sanguem Assembly constituency.
Atanasio, who has been accused of raping a minor girl, fills in former Chief Minister late Manohar Parrikar's boots in the Panaji Assembly seat, at the cost of Parrikar's son Utpal, who had sought to represent the Bharatiya Janata Party in the constituency, which had been held by Parrikar since 1994, before his demise in 2019.
"I cannot compare myself with Parrikar... but we will ensure that the BJP will win the seat with the highest margin yet," Monserrate told reporters after his ticket was cleared by the BJP high command.
BJP's Goa election in-charge Devendra Fadnavis said that the party was still in talks with the disgruntled Utpal to contest the elections from the Bicholim Assembly constituency. Utpal on Thursday confirmed that the BJP had offered him the Bicholim seat as a compromise, but added that he was not going to take up on the offer. Utpal has already warned the BJP, that he would contest as an independent candidate, if he is denied a ticket from Panaji.
Defending the BJP's decision to grant Monserrate the ticket, Fadnavis said: "A sitting MLA has been given a ticket in Panaji. Parrikar's family is our family. They are close to us".
"I had given Utpal Parrikar two options about where he could contest. He had refused one option. We are still discussing the second option with him. We all feel he should accept it. BJP has respected the Parrikar family," Fadnavis also told the press conference in Delhi.
The BJP has also fielded sitting Vasco MLA and former Urban Development Minister Milind Naik, who last month was at the centre of a sex scandal, after the Congress released videos, audio and WhatsApp messages featuring the now former Minister alleging that Naik was sexually exploiting a widow from Bihar.
While the police have claimed that they have found no substance in the complaint filed by Congress vice president Sankalp Amonkar against Naik, the former Minister has denied all allegations.
Former Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar has been denied a ticket to contest from the Mandrem Assembly constituency, which has been allotted to sitting MLA Dayanand Sopte. Sopte was elected to the state Assembly in 2017 on a Congress ticket, but joined the BJP subsequently.
According to BJP national general secretary Arun Singh, in the ticket allocation exercise, the BJP has reached out to all sections of society including minorities, OBC, ST and SC candidates.
"The world's biggest party, BJP, has worked for the rights of the dalits and backward classes. In three general seats, ST candidates have been fielded, in one general seat BJP has fielded SC candidate, there are 11 OBC candidates and nine minority candidates who are Christians," Singh said.