Son of Manohar Parrikar quits BJP, to contest as Independent from Panaji

Utpal Parrikar said that the battle ahead was going to be tough and the BJP no longer felt like the party his father, five-time MLA from Panaji, had strived to build in Goa.

After the BJP refused to name him its candidate from the Panaji assembly constituency for the upcoming Goa Assembly elections, Utpal Parrikar, son of late Defence Minister and former chief minister Manohar Parrikar, resigned from the party. He also announced on Friday that he will make his political debut in the February 14 assembly poll as an independent candidate from the Goan capital.

?I tried my best to convince my party during the last election (2019 bypoll after Manohar Parrikar?s death) and this election that I enjoy the support of all the workers who have been with this party for the last 30 years. They toiled with my father to build this party and now they are toiling with me. I also enjoy the support of the general population of Panaji. Inspite of that I have not been able to get the candidature of Panaji constituency,? said 40-year-old Utpal after resigning from the BJP on Friday evening.

He said that the battle ahead was going to be tough and the BJP no longer felt like the party his father, five-time MLA from Panaji, had strived to build in Goa. ?Last time too the (BJP) organisation had rejected my candidature for some peculiar reasons. I had listened to the party then. Now they don?t feel like decisions made by Parrikar?s party,? Utpal said.

?It (BJP candidature from Panaji) has been given to someone who has opportunistically come to the party in the last two years. Due to these circumstances, I have no choice but to stand for the values that my father believed in and go ahead and let people of Panaji decide my political fate.?

?Manohar Parrikar represented Panaji constituency for more than two decades?All these years he had developed an immense bond with the people of Panaji which even I have developed. People did not vote for Manohar Parrikar just because he was Manohar Parrikar. They supported him because he stood for some values. The time has come for me also to stand for those values,? said Utpal. He said he owed it to the people of Panaji to give them an honest, educated candidate with integrity.

Later, in his television interview, he said that the BJP Goa Pradesh had let him and many party workers down. ?It is not about Utpal Parrikar. Give a clean candidate without criminal record, I will withdraw (my candidature) and tell people to vote for that candidate.?

After announcing the election candidates for Goa, BJP Goa election incharge Devendra Fadnavis had said on Thursday, ?Utpal Parrikar and Parrikarji?s family is our family. They are very close to us. We gave Utpal Parrikar two more options from where he can contest. He already refused one and discussions about the other are going on with him. We all feel he should agree. The Parrikar family will always be respected by the BJP.?

While he did not reveal which constituencies was offered to him, Utpal said on Friday, ?I am not here to just win any position or a post. I am fighting for some values I believe in. I am fighting for Panaji. Let people of Panaji decide. It?s not about me just getting a position, becoming an MLA from whichever is the easy option. I cannot negotiate with my party. I will never do that?.I was given two options but I am not working on anything?.

While speculation was rife that Utpal may be offered the Bicholim seat after sitting MLA and Goa assembly Speaker Rajesh Patnekar had reportedly backed out citing health reasons, the state BJP leadership on Friday said that Patnekar will be the party?s candidate from Bicholim and his name may be announced formally on Saturday.

?Rajesh Patnekar will be our candidate from Bicholim. It is confirmed. We have recommended only one name. All the issues have been sorted,? BJP President Sadanand Tanavade said on Friday.

Utpal said that he agreed that nobody gets anything on a platter in the BJP and said that he had not asked for anything only because he was Parrikar?s son. ?I am not asking for anything on a platter. That is why I am not accepting options. I am fighting it out because my father was a fighter.?

While political leaders including Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut had rallied behind Utpal, the junior Parrikar ruled out the possibility of joining any other party.

?As far as political party is concerned, the only platform available to me is the BJP. The other platform is independent, my own platform which I have to do, unfortunately, in these circumstances? I have not accepted offers from my own party. There is no question of thinking of offers from other parties. It can never cross my mind,? he said.

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