Many CM contenders to lead Cong in Goa

Manohar Parrikar likely to take charge if BJP wins

 A number of power centres have emerged within the Congress even as the party is trying its luck to wrest control of all the 40 Assembly seats with its ally, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

From the 33 Congress candidates, there are no less than four chief minister aspirants, if not more. In North Goa, Speaker Pratapsingh Rane and his edgily ambitious son Vishwajit have managed to corner seven Congress-NCP tickets for their protegees, two of them crossed over from the BJP. That alone has put the political veteran Rane in the front to lead the Congress legislature party post-election. Ranes close ties with MGP’s Dhavlikar brothers, Sudin and Deepak will also be a factor to watch in a hung assembly scenario in Goa.

Chief Minister Digambar Kamat who seems isolated at the moment “cannot be entirely written off”, say his supporters. Kamat’s low profile and please-all policy helped him survive a whole five-year term. The man from Margao also has some of the biggest money-bags in mining and the hotel industry still backing him.

Caught between the choice of giving in or facing rebellion as in 2007, the Congress strategy to reward Churchill Alemao with four tickets for his clan — his brother Joaquim, daughter Valanka and nephew Yuri — is a huge risk for the Congress-NCP  alliance. Many believe the public mood could backfire against family raj. If it pays off for the Alemaos, Churchill will most definitely pose the biggest challenge to Rane.

Depending on his chances of winning the Santa Cruz seat where he is sweating it out against MGP’s multimillionaire Dinar Tarcar, Babush Monserrate is also likely to influence the selection of a Congress leader. He managed a ticket for his wife and two other supporters. Given his public image, Monserrate’s prospects of occupying the CM’s chair are rather dim.

If body language is an indication, BJP leader Manohar Parrikar said it all on Sunday. Taking complete charge at a press conference to release the manifesto, Parrikar made central party leader Ravi Shankar Prasad seem superfluous. The BJP has not made a formal announcement about who will be CM if they win, but no one here doubts it will be the unchallenged Parrikar. The fact the BJP is so completely identified with Parrikar in Goa is proving to be some advantage to the saffron campaign, even among some minority voters.

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