Monserrate picks first time councilor Vithal Chopdekar for post of Mayor; The sitting Mayor preferred not to comment on this development; The new mayor will have a great deal on his plate given that the monsoon is just a few months away
Amidst many names doing the rounds, former legislator Atanasio ‘Babush’ Monserrate stunned everyone by declaring a new face for the forthcoming Mayoral election. The decision to nominate first time councilor Vithal Chopdekar for the Mayor’s race was essentially to ensure the chair had a non-controversial and non-self-obsessed elected representative. Babush this time has also picked a new face Asmita Kerkar for the Deputy Mayor’s race.
Babush-backed Panjim Corporation panel leads with 15 councilors followed by BJP’s 13 wards and two Independents comprising of present Mayor Surendra Furtado and his wife councilor Ruth Furtado.
The ex-legislator has openly claimed that he was in search of a person like Chopdekar and Kerkar, who is more dedicated to work rather than be involved in self-promotion.
“I didn’t want a person with an “I factor” but someone who will talk about “we” and take everybody together for carrying out the developmental work in the city. I also did not want any controversies surrounding our candidate. I want to see how a new person can perform and deliver,” Babush told Herald.
The Babush-panel had on February 28 unanimously chosen Uday Madkaikar for the Mayor’s post but three days later, the councilor withdrew from the race citing “personal reasons.” Keen to replace Furtado, Babush had declared to take a fresh decision little before the election.
“Anybody under the sun but not him (Furtado),” he had told Herald allaying rumours Furtado was still in the race.
There is however no clarity on how who would the Furtado couple support. The sitting mayor, reportedly upset with the development has refrained from making any statement. “No comments” was his response when Herald contacted him on Monday.
While it is certain Chopdekar and Kerkar would clinch the respective posts, unarguably they will be surrounded with a long list of pending and controversial issues like market scam, pay parking scam, allotment of spaces to legal vendors in the municipal market, cleaning of St Inez creek, garbage disposal, etc. These issues have often dominated the CCP meetings with both ruling and opposition cornering the Mayor.
It would also be interesting to see how Chopdekar, always calm and composed during any heated debate during the meetings will tackle these issues. Herald spoke to him as well wherein he has listed completing the pre-monsoon work on priority. “In the next over two months, monsoon will arrive. We have to ensure people and their property’s safety as a part of the pre-monsoon preparedness. They should not face inconvenience. Flooding prone areas and clogs of the city drains in the rains needs to be tackled, and our work will be in this direction first… I will also sit with Babush and the councilors to understand other major issues that need urgent attention,” he said adding development of the city is also a priority.
The BJP led opposition council panel at the Corporation of the City of Panaji (CCP) on Monday has nominated a councilor for the mayoral race even as they preferred to stay tight lipped with regards the candidates name.
The decision was taken at a meeting which was attended by Sidharth Kuncaliencar and councilors and it was held a day after the Monserrate panel declared Vithal Chopdekar as their candidate.
Speaking to Herald, former BJP Panjim MLA Siddharth Kuncalienkar and leader of the panel said “Today we held a meeting with all our councilors for discussion on the possible mayor candidate for upcoming CCP elections and the final decision on the candidate will be taken tomorrow”
Councilor and former CCP Mayor Shubham Chodankar said “The decision will be taken tomorrow and it is send to the Chief Minister for approval. We will also decide whether we will be contesting the elections or not”.
However, BJP is facing dissension within its ranks. Senior Councilor Menino D’Cruz is lobbying for the post and is against the move of making first time councilor Dessai as Mayor. Dessai is known as a close aid of former BJP Panjim MLA Siddharath Kuncolienkar.
“Pandurang Raut Dessai is the BJP candidate for Mayor. His candidature is almost approved; however, Menino D’Cruz is upset with the decision. Dessai’s candidature is even backed by Monserrate,” sources confirmed Herald.