Manohar Parrikar's son Utpal Parrikar will not make his electoral debut yet. After much discussion, the ruling BJP has decided to field Manohar Parrikar's former aide Sidharth Kuncalienker instead for Panaji, which fell vacant after the death of the former chief minister in March.
Utpal Parrikar, widely expected to be the BJP's pick for the May 19 by-polls in the constituency, said he would campaign for Sidharth Kuncalienker.
"I have been saying from day one that whatever the party decides, I will comply with that," Parrikar junior told news agency ANI.
"This constituency was represented by my father for more than 25 years so it is very essential that we retain it. I would do whatever is necessary so that the party retains this seat comfortably," he said.
Utpal Parrikar shared he had even been campaigning in Panaji and had been received very emotionally by voters. "I have been campaigning in Panjim going door to door for the last 15 days. When I would go to any house, a woman would come out and they would have tears in their eyes after looking at me," he said.
The Congress accused the BJP of trying to cash in on the sympathy factor by fielding Manohar Parrikar's son.
Utpal Parrikar, 38, is a businessman with a Master's degree from the US. He had earlier said that he would take any responsibility given by the BJP.
What tipped the scales against him was a public announcement by former Goa RSS chief Subhash Velingkar that he would also enter the Panaji contest. The BJP then opted for Kuncalienkar, who has won in Panaji twice in the past. Party leaders say with Mr Velingkar in the equation, a more experienced candidate was needed.
Mr Kunkolienkar first won the Panaji seat in a by-election in 2015. He again won the constituency in the 2017 state Assembly polls, but later vacated the seat for Manohar Parrikar, who returned to Goa as chief minister after three years as Union Defence Minister.
Utpal Parrikar said his father had also faced obstacles when he started out his journey in politics. "Obstacles will keep coming. But one should not be disheartened," he said.
Maintaining connections with people was "more important than fighting elections", he said. "Election will come and go. More important is to maintain connections with the people and I''ll be working towards that. "
The opposition Congress has fielded former state minister Atanasio Monserratte in Panaji.
With inputs from ANI