Congress pits Rahul Gandhi confidante against CM Manohar Parrikar in Goa bypoll

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday filed his nomination for the August 23 by-election from the Panaji Assembly seat, for which the Congress has chosen Rahul Gandhi confidante Girish Chodankar.

PTI| Last Updated: Aug 02, 2017, 23:43 PM IST

Panaji: Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday filed his nomination for the August 23 by-election from the Panaji Assembly seat, for which the Congress has chosen Rahul Gandhi confidante Girish Chodankar.

In the bypoll for Valpoi seat, the Congress today announced the candidature of Roy Naik, the son of former state home minister Ravi Naik.

Parrikar quit as Defence Minister to become the chief minister of the coastal state in March, as directed by his party which stitched up a coalition with regional parties.

He had represented the Panaji seat in the state assembly from 1994 till 2014 before moving to the Centre.

The BJP's Siddharth Kuncolienkar had vacated the seat for Parrikar to contest as he has to get elected to the Assembly within six months of becoming the Chief Minister.

Though the Congress emerged as the single largest party after the Assembly polls in February, the BJP, with the support of the Goa Forward Party, the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and independents, cobbled up an alliance and formed the government under Parrikar's leadership.

Parrikar initially had the choice to contest either from Curchorem or Panaji constituency but he chose the latter, which has been his bastion.

Keen on giving a tough fight to Parrikar, the Congress picked up AICC secretary Chodankar, who is part of the core team of party vice-president Rahul Gandhi.

A bypoll is also scheduled on the same day in Valpoi seat, which fell vacant after Viswajit Rane resigned shortly after his election to the assembly on the Congress ticket.

Rane, the son of party veteran Pratapsinh Rane, later joined the BJP and was made a minister in the Parrikar cabinet.

Before filing his nomination, Parrikar said development of the constituency and the state as a whole is his main agenda.

"After the election results are out on August 28, the implementation of the 365-day-long action plan for Panaji constituency will start," he said.

The reverse countdown of the plan will start from August 29 and it will be completed exactly after a year," he told his supporters, who accompanied him as he went to file his nomination at the election office here.

Goa Congress Chief Shantaram Naik said the party will raise the issue of offshore casinos as a major poll plank during the campaigning.

Gearing up to take on Parrikar, Chodankar said his party's stand on offshore casinos is very clear that they should move out of the river.

Alleging that BJP-led government had been helping the "casino lobby", Chodankar said, "Casinos have been an ATM of BJP government for the last five years".