Utpal Parrikar, the son of former Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, said today he is putting his entire political career on the line by fighting the election against Atanasio 'Babush' Monserrate in Panaji, his father's constituency.
Utpal Parrikar will contest the February 14 Goa election as an independent candidate from Panaji after the BJP denied him a ticket and named controversial MLA Babush Monserrate for the seat.
"I am putting my whole political career on the line by fighting Babush Monserrate in Panjim, where he has the machinery of the state," Mr Parrikar told NDTV in an exclusive interview.
"It is a tough choice. Even now it's not easy. My father had worked on building the party from the ground up for more than two decades. I have a relationship with the BJP workers, all people involved in building the party. I am in politics because I am his son."
But he conceded that Manohar Parrikar did not plan for his son to join politics.
"No one wants their son to come into this space. But a good person finally has to take his own decision and come in. Someone has to stand up. I was hoping the BJP will give me a chance to do that," said the engineering graduate.
Manohar Parrikar, a three-time Chief Minister, died in 2019. He held the Panaji seat for 25 years. In the by-election after Mr Parrikar's death, his long-time rival Babush Monserrate, accused in a rape case, won as a Congress candidate but later switched to the BJP.
"If I wanted a ticket just for being Manohar Parrikar's son I would have insisted on it the last time. The last time I had a lot of support from ground workers and people. I was denied a ticket. Winnability was with me but I accepted what the party did. I told them the BJP candidate would lose, still I wholeheartedly accepted the candidate."
Why does he not accept the party's choice now?
"Now they have given the ticket to a defector. He has always worked against the BJP and won with anti-BJP votes. Our voters do not want to vote with him or work with him," said Mr Parrikar.
In their attempts to mollify Parrikar junior, the BJP offered other constituencies and also a 2027 launch. But he quit anyway.
"The moment I resigned I said give a good candidate and I'll go home."
Many in the BJP reached out after he quit, claims Mr Parrikar, without revealing names.
As for other parties – parties like the Shiv Sena and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had come out in his support – Mr Parrikar said: "Individuals are supporting me from across party lines. But my support - a large section will be from the BJP."
He defended his decision to contest, as a rank newcomer with little experience in active politics.
"In 1994, when my father came, he was not even a resident of Panaji. But they saw potential in him. I have time till the 14th. Let them decide. I am fighting the toughest battle a novice could fight. I have to send not only a defector but a defection enabler out of the assembly."
Elections to the 40-member Goa assembly will be held next month along with four other states. The results will be declared on March 10.