Rebels make Goa parties wobble ahead of polls

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    By Mayabhushan Nagvenkar

    Panaji, (IANS) As the March 3 assembly polls inch closer, rebellion has surfaced in Goa’s political ranks, with those who have been denied party tickets threatening to raise the banner of revolt.

    Congress, the party which stands to lose most by the rebellion factor, is battling rebels in more than 10 out of the 33 constituencies it is contesting. Goa assembly has 40 seats.

    Vijay Sardesai, who was one of the contenders for a Congress ticket from the Fatorda constituency, has filed his candidature as an independent and said his criticism of the ‘family first’ policy of the Congress when it came to ticket distribution killed his chances as a contender.

    “They have targeted me for speaking against tickets being given to the family members of sitting legislators,” Sardesai said.

    Other Congress rebels who are likely to contest as independents or on the tickets of regional parties include Francis Fernandes (Siolim), Naresh Sawal (Bicholim), Armindo Braganza (Mapusa), Rudolf Fernandes (St Cruz), Venkatesh Dessai (Valpoi), Govind Gawde (Priol), Ramakant Borkar (Cortalim) and Savio Countinho (Margao).

    Congress MP in the Rajya Sabha Shantaram Naik has said the party was going out of its way to placate rebels and coax them into withdrawing their candidature in support of the Congress.

    “We are reaching out to all of them asking them to put their differences behind and fight communal forces unitedly. Elections are not everything,” Naik said.

    The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has also not been spared the rebellion malaise either.

    The party’s senior scheduled tribe leader Prakash Shankar Velip has filed his papers as an independent candidate from the Quepem seat after BJP’s alliance partner, the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) wrested the Quepem constituency in the seat sharing arrangement and fielded Chief Minister Digambar Kamat’s personal secretary Prakash Arjun Velip there.

    “I was forced to take the decision to contest as an independent because people want me to. I have put in years of hard work in this constituency,” Prakash Shankar Velip said.

    Congress’ alliance partner, the Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP) bosses, who have been accused of selling tickets by its rebel, could also be having sleepless nights, with rebel candidates threatening to eat into the party vote bank.

    Venkatesh Prabhu Moni resigned as vice president of the NCP here after the ticket to the Porvorim seat was allotted to the NCP state mahila unit president Fermina Khaunte.

    “NCP observer for Goa, Bharati Chavan, demanded Rs.15 lakh and a house in return for a party ticket, which I refused,” Moni told a press conference after he was denied a ticket.

    Chavan has denied the allegations calling Moni to conclusively prove his statement.