12 May 2019 05:20am IST

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12 May 2019 05:20am IST

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In the last three years Panjim has seen its third election, this time due to demise of former chief minister Manohar Parrikar. After years, the capital city will see a tough contest. While political pundits say BJP candidate Sidharth Kuncalienker and Congress’ Atanasio (Babush) Monserrate are the front runners, former RSS chief and GSM candidate Subash Velingkar and AAP candidate Valmiki Naik cannot be written off. SURAJ NANDREKAR takes the pulse of the Ponjekars ahead of May 19 polls.

For the first time in 25 years the Panjim constituency elections will be fought without the presence of former chief minister and BJP Panjim MLA (late) Manohar Parrikar, who was elected six times from the capital town.

However, this seems to be a different type of election, as Congress with the candidature of Taleigao strongman Atanasio Babush Monserrate feels it has a upper hand.

On the other hand BJP is feeling the absence of Parrikar, they are confident that two-time MLA Sidharth has what it takes to take the party over the line. 

Meanwhile, AAP supporters believe, that Valmiki Naik who had contested the elections earlier, offers the alternative people want. Interestingly, that is similar to what GSM’s candidate Subash Velingkar claims to offer. 

Panjim issues galore

The capital city of Panjim has several teething issues to be settled like employment, casinos, St Inez creek, flooding, parking, water, electricity, incessant digging, waste management – and the list continues.

However, the political parties instead of looking into the issues have been laying emphasis on mudslinging. Both BJP and Congress ignored the core issues initially and have now incorporated them in their manifestos at the fag end of campaigning. 

The fight is expected to turn bitter, with allegations being made by candidates of rival camps that Babush has been inciting voters with goodies.

While Congress has accused the BJP candidate Sidharth of corruption in Smart City implementation, BJP on the other hand has decided to focus on the Babush’s criminal background.

BJP has also accused the Congress candidate for approaching them for ticket. But the question now is will Ponjekars, wake up and vote for a better MLA. For the last seven years the city has seen five elections. Isn’t this a cruel joke on the voters?

While this election is a prestige issue for BJP as they seek to continue its reign in what was known as Parrikar’s bastion; for Babush, this election is much more than just taking supremacy.

He has different plans altogether if he wins the Panjim by-poll. He wants to bring the Congress back to power in the State and he has made no bones about his plans.

However, in the last few days the frequent press conferences and complaint by BJP on his background, his image in Panjim has taken a beating. 

Especially, due to his inability to keep CCP scams under control, which his panel is ruling.

While it will be a keenly fought contest between Sidharth and Babush, the worry for BJP would be GSM candidate Subash Velingkar ability to dent their prospects seriously with split of votes.

Velingkar, the former close aid of late Manohar Parrikar, had split from BJP and RSS in 2016 over issue of medium of instruction at primary level education. He had then floated the political outfit GSM. 

Similarly for Congress, there is a worry that AAP’s Valmiki Naik may eat into their vote base.  It is to be noted that both GSM and AAP have rejected claims that they are here to split votes, while both parties have aggressively trained their guns against the BJP-led government. 

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