Ex-RSS chief joins poll race in Panaji

Ex-RSS chief joins poll race in Panaji

Velingkar was the Goa Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s chief for two decades. (PTI File Photo)

The battle for 'Parrikar’s Panaji’ promises to be an interesting one, with the ex-Chief Minister’s mentor and former Goa RSS chief Subhash Velingkar announcing his electoral debut on Friday, in which he is expected to take on Parrikar’s son Utpal and Congress candidate Atanasio Monserrate, a former minister charged for rape of a minor.

Velingkar announced his candidature for the May 19 Panaji bypoll, on a day when Monserrate and Aam Aadmi Party’s Valmiki Naik filed their nomination papers.

Velingkar was the Goa Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s chief for two decades. He was sacked after he took Parrikar head-on over issues related to corruption and his repeated U-turns on key policy issues.

Velingkar is seen as the political mentor of Parrikar and other top BJP leaders in Goa and is considered a vital cog in the growth of the saffron party in the state. He hails from Panaji and has a strong following among the key movers and shakers in the right wing apparatus.

Fighting for issues

“After twenty years of BJP rule, Panaji still does not have regular water supply, its roads are in bad shape and the city is in shambles. These are the issues I am going to contest on,” Velingkar told a press conference in Panaji on Friday.

Velingkar in his campaign is also likely to press the BJP’s raw nerve — the casino industry which operates from the state capital, which Parrikar is reported to have first opposed and then backed, during his tenure in power.

“Casinos do not operate in isolation. That industry comes along with vices like drug use and prostitution. This is the legacy of the BJP and Parrikar, which needs to be driven out,” Velingkar said. He is expected to file his nomination on Saturday.

After claiming that the party’s candidate for Panaji would be finalised on Thursday, the BJP appears to be taking time over the announcement. State BJP president Vinay Tendulkar had said that names of Utpal Parrikar and late Parrikar’s aide Sidharth Kuncalienkar had been shortlisted by the state unit and sent to the party’s central election committee.