Panaji Assembly By-Poll: Congress May Field Ex-Minister Against Manohar Parrikar

Atanasio Monserratte was expelled from the Congress in 2015 for 'anti-party' activities.

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Panaji Assembly By-Poll: Congress May Field Ex-Minister Against Manohar Parrikar

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar represented the Panaji assembly seat from 1994 till 2014.

Panaji:  A day after the ruling BJP vacated the Panaji assembly seat for Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, necessitating a by-poll, the Congress is trying to persuade its expelled leader and former minister Atanasio Monserratte to take on the BJP stalwart.

Sitting Panaji MLA Siddharth Kuncalienkar yesterday resigned from his seat, paving the way for Mr Parrikar to contest the by-election and enter the Goa Assembly. Congress' A Chellakumar, who is in Goa, met Mr Monserratte today to discuss the possibility of the former MLA contesting the upcoming by-poll on a Congress ticket.

"It has been decided that whoever contests Panaji by-poll, he will do so on the Congress ticket. We held preliminary talks with Monserratte today and he sounded positive," Mr Challakumar told reporters.

When contacted, Mr Monserratte said he was indeed "positive" about contesting from Panaji constituency, but would announce his decision in the next couple of days.

The Election Commission is yet to announce dates for the by-election.

Mr Monserratte, a minister in the erstwhile Digambar Kamat-led Congress government in Goa, was expelled from the Congress in 2015 for 'anti-party' activities. He was then representing the St Cruz seat.

He then formed his own outfit, United Goans Party, during the recently-held assembly elections. Mr Monserratte lost to Mr Kuncalienkar in Panaji constituency by a narrow margin.

Mr Parrikar took over as chief minister in March after resigning as Union Defence Minister, after the BJP, which failed to get a majority on its own, succeeded in cobbling together a coalition with the support of regional outfits.

He has to get elected to the Assembly within six months for continuing as the chief minister. The Panaji constituency has been Mr Parrikar's bastion. 

He represented the seat from 1994 till 2014, before he moved to the Centre as defence minister. 

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