Panjim, Aug 28: Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and BJP nominee Vishwajit Rane won the by election to Goa Assembly from Panjim and Volpoi constituencies defeating their Congress rivals Girish Chodankar and Ray Naik, respectively with resounding margins.
In what is considered as the prestigious fight, Manohar Parrikar pocketed 9862 votes while his opponent got 5059 votes. Thus Parrikar scored a big win by 4803 votes against his Congress rival Girish Chodankar. In percentage terms Parrikar received 63.47 % against 32.56 % votes by Chodankar.
Another BJP nominee Vishwajit Rane, son of former Goa Chief Minister Pratapsinh Rane also won from Valpoi constituency trouncing the Congress rival Roy Naik by 10,066 votes. With this the BJP now has strength of 14 in the 40-member Goa Assembly.
The Goa Suraksha Manch founded by former Goa RSS Sanghchalak Subhash Welingkar has put up its candidate Anand Shirodkar against Parrikar who received only 2200 votes.
Registering a better performance Vishwajit Rane bagged 16167 votes i.e 70.66 % of the total 23038 votes polled in Valpoi.
The election was held on August 23 for the vacant posts.
The BJP had come to power in Goa in March this year in a most dramatic way as it scored over the Congress party despite its higher tally in the 40 member House. With the two victories, the BJP has strengthened its position in the State Assembly besides adding stability to the coalition government.
The Maharashtravadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and Goa Forward Party (GFP) besides two independents had supported the Parrikar government.
When he took over as Chief Minister of Goa, Parrikar was Defence Minister in the Union Cabinet and was not a member of the State Assembly. He had to get elected to the Assembly in six month period. A BJP MLA who won the election from Panjim by just 919 votes had vacated his seat for Parrikar.
In the 2002 elections, Parrikar had won the Panjim seat by over 6000 votes. He first won the Panajim seat in 1994. The current victory is his sixth term from the state capital.
The Congress leadership, angry as it was with Rane’s smart moves, vowed to defeat him in the by election. They also vowed to defeat Parrikar as he did not respect the ‘popular mandate’ that went against the BJP and formed an ‘anti-democratic government’.
However, the Congress had to bite the dust in both the cases as they failed to put up a strong candidate against Parrikar and Rane both.
Political observers see this victory as confirmation of Parrikar’s ‘sway over Panjim’. Ever since the first election in 1994, the electoral graph of his party has been moving upwards. Out of the 15000 votes polled this time Parrikar received 9862 votes and that proves his hold over the constituency.
Soon after Parrirkar and Vishwajit Rane's win, PM Narendra Modi took to Twitter and congratulated them. He wrote, "Congrats to Manohar Parrikar and Vishwajit Rane for the impressive wins in Panaji and Valpoi respectively. I thank the people of Goa for their support."
Talking to reporters after the victory, Parrikar said that he was expecting his win. "Winning by such margin is great. The people are wise. I would resign from the Rajya Sabha in the coming week," the CM added.
Parrikar came back to state politics after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), despite not being the single-largest party in the state, went on to form the government with the help and alliance of Independents and other small parties.
While Chodankar told reporters: "I may have lost numerically, but residents of Panaji have given me a lot of love."
Sitting BJP MLA Sidarth Kuncolienkar resigned from the Panaji seat, enabling Parrikar to contest for the state capital constituency.
Reacting to his victory Vishwajit Rane said on twitter: “Proud of this overwhelming victory! Grateful to each and every supporter for their hard work & for the trust they have placed in me”.
Nearly 75 per cent voting was recorded during the August 23 by-polls in Goa, with 22,196 and 28,868 votes cast in Panaji and in Valpoi assembly constituencies respectively.
Earlier, Parrikar was condemned over an alleged video circulated on the social media, which quoted him saying that he may go back to the Centre if he loses the by-polls in Goa.
It was also said that Parrikar, by making such statements, was insulting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had appointed him as the defence minister.
(With additional inputs from agencies)