Will contest as Independent from Panjim; Hopes to get Congress support
PANJIM: Known for switching his political loyalty, Atanasio (Babush) Monserrate on Wednesday quit Goa Forward Party (GFP), an alliance partner of the BJP in the government, in a bid to contest as Independent from the Panjim Assembly constituency, which will go to the polls on May 19.
Monserrate, vice president of GFP, also tendered his resignation as Chairman of Greater Panjim Planning and Development Authority (GPPDA), a new planning area, notified last year, just to facilitate the former St Cruz MLA.
The former education minister announced he will contest the Panjim by-election as an Independent and is expecting Congress support. The move is likely to give BJP some sleepless nights, as it has been representing the constituency for 25 uninterrupted years.
Speaking to Herald after resigning, Monserrate said there is no possibility of him joining Congress or any other party. “I have friends in all parties and will appeal to all to help me. I will seek Congress support for my candidature,” he said. There, however, was speculation that Monserrate would be joining Congress this week.
Monserrate, who lost the 2017 Assembly elections, had joined GFP in July 2017 ahead of the by-polls in the constituency. He had then extended his support to Manohar Parrikar’s candidature. In return, the coalition government had notified a new planning area called GPPDA with Monserrate as chairman.
“I had supported Parrikar for the by-elections that time. We had an understanding. Now with Parrikar no more, anyone has a right to contest. And so I am contesting,” he stated. The former Congressman had lost to BJP’s Siddharath Kuncolienkar by 1069 votes in the March 2017 Assembly elections.
GFP vice-president Durgadas Kamat said the party has accepted Monserrate’s resignation from the primary membership. “He wanted to contest the Panjim by-election and the party rejected it,” he said.
Monserrate on Wednesday evening met with the councilors of the ruling group of the Corporation of the City of Panaji and directed them to start working for him in the constituency. The meeting was attended by his supporters.
The BJP is currently wooing Parrikar’s elder son Utpal for the Panjim seat. His candidature is backed by GFP president Vijai Sardesai who said Utpal is the rightful heir to carry forward his father’s legacy.
However, this has not gone well with Monserrate who questioned the legacy aspect. “What is this legacy everyone is talking about? If tomorrow I die, does that mean my son has to contest? No. I don’t believe in all this things,” he said.