Panaji: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) still hasn`t finalised its chief ministerial candidate for the March 3 polls in Goa, even as party president Nitin Gadkari claimed Sunday that the two warring factions within the party had buried the hatchet.
"We are all going to the elections together. Manohar Parrikar, Shripad Naik, our president and leaders of the MGP (Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, BJP`s poll partner for the assembly election)," a guarded Gadkari said, when asked why the party had not finalised a chief ministerial candidate for the elections, as has been the norm in the past polls.
A caste-based war between Leader of Opposition Manohar Parrikar (a Brahmin) and North Goa MP Shripad Naik (a Bhandari) has created doubts in the rank and file of the BJP, which has failed to project a united front even during the party`s pre-poll campaign. The feud has a remarkable semblance to the Nitin Gadkari-Gopinath Munde tussle in Maharashtra last year, when the BJP`s Brahmin and OBC leaders respectively slugged it out over the appointment of office bearers.
The tension between Naik, who has always been projected as a mass OBC leader by the BJP and former chief minister Manohar Parrikar, who has a smaller, but cult-like following amongst the Goa`s urban elite and the Gaud Saraswat Brahmin (GSB) sections, has largely derailed the party`s pre-election campaigneering agenda.
Naik has publicly opted out of the Jan Sampark yatra, launched by the party to drum up support across the state before the elections, after the BJP leadership in New Delhi thumbed down Naik`s plan to contest the state assembly elections.
Gadkari said that the outstanding "issues" concerning Naik were an "internal party matter" and had been resolved.
"All issues have been resolved. They were an internal party matter. Shripad Naik will contest the assembly elections in Goa. The party`s parliamentary board will decide which constituency he will contest from," Gadkari said.