After 25 years of uninterrupted run, the BJP on Thursday failed to retain the Panaji Assembly constituency, largely represented by late Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar since 1994.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Sidharth Kuncalienkar lost to Congress’ Atanasio Monserrate by 1,758 votes. Monserrate polled 8,748 votes against Kuncalienkar’s 6,990 votes. AAP’s Valmiki Naik and Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM) candidate Subhash Velingkar polled 236 and 516 votes respectively.
However, BJP candidate Subhash Shirodkar won the Assemby bypoll for Shiroda constituency defeating Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party’s Deepak Dhavalikar by 66 votes.
“This is a victory of the Congress party and a vote for the development. Panaji has been deprived of development for the past so many years,” Monserrate said after the announcement of his victory.
The bypoll for the Panaji Assembly constituency was necessitated following the death of its MLA and Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar in March, after a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer.
Parrikar first won the constituency in 1994 and retained it until 2014, when he was elevated to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet. In his absence, the seat was represented twice by his aide Kuncalienkar. On his return to state politics in 2018, Parrikar was once again elected Panaji MLA.
The loss is significant for the BJP, which promised to carry forward Parrikar’s legacy in Panaji. The saffron party’s campaign received a setback after it state leadership snubbed his son Utpal Parrikar’s bid for a ticket for the Panaji bypoll.
Utpal Parrikar said the loss was “painful” and added: “In a democracy, collective wisdom always lies with the people. We have to work hard and win back people’s trust.”
Commenting on his loss, AAP’s candidate Valmiki Naik said: “It’s a relief that the BJP, which brought Panaji to its worst condition ever, has finally lost the seat”.