Will not contest in by-poll from Panjim; Speculation rife that two Congress MLAs may follow Monserrate into GFP
PANJIM: According to the Herald, in a major jolt to the Congress party and creating a political upheaval, Atanasio (Babush) Monserrate on Tuesday joined the Goa Forward Party.
Considered as the political heavy weight from Tiswadi, Monserrate’s entry into Goa Forward has narrowed the hopes of the Congress party to topple the government and come to power.
Welcoming Monserrate into the party, GFP President and TCP Minister Vijai Sardesai said, “Monserrate joining Goa Forward is a major political development and gives a stability certificate to Manohar Parrikar led government in the State.”
He said that Parrikar can be declared as MLA from Panjim. “We will support Manohar Parrikar in Panjim,” he stated and added, “If any MLA resigns from the Assembly, Goa Forward will contest and this has been discussed with Manohar Parrikar.”
Retorting to the pre-election demands of the Congress to merge Goa Forward into the Congress, Sardesai said, “Now Congress can think of merging into Goa Forward in Goa.”
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Monserrate said that the Congress is not serious. “I was in talks with several leaders of the Congress regarding the Panjim seat but they are not serious. There are two leaders in the State who run the Congress. Even the high command does not know what is happening in the State. These two leaders are running the party like a proprietorship firm.”
Asked regarding his entry into the Goa Legislative Assembly, Monserrate said, “We will not force anyone to resign but as Vijai has said, if anybody resigns from the Assembly, then the party will contest on that seat.”
Speculations are rife that Monserrate’s entry into Goa Forward will be followed by two Congress MLAs – Santa Cruz MLA Antonio Fernandes and St Andre MLA Francis Silveira – who were supported by Monserrate during the Assembly polls earlier this year.
According to social media gossip, Antonio Fernandes (Tony) will resign tomorrow and Babush will contest from the vacated seat of Santa Cruz with support of BJP on a GFP ticket. Similarly, Babush’s wife Jennifer is also expected to resign and contest either as an independent with BJP support or join the GFP.
Stating that Sardesai had been single-handedly fighting as the Opposition during the last Assembly, Monserrate said, “The Common Minimum Program of the government shows the reversal of previous government’s decisions.”
Sardesai said, “Babush Monserrate is a proactive and pro-development person. We will concentrate on building a new Goa with foundations of Goemkarponn. And let me tell you, we are not the B-team of BJP but an alliance partner in the present government.”
According to an Indian Express report, On being asked about his remarks that he would contest on a Congress ticket, Babush said the Congress Party was not serious about reviving itself in the state. “The Congress is basically not serious (in announcing the seat). I have been meeting several leaders but they don’t seem serious… there are many Congress leaders who are frustrated. Two senior Congress leaders are running the party as proprietorship. These two leaders feed the Congress High Command on what is happening in Goa.”
“GFP is a serious political player in the state and our ideology is regionalist. Our narrative of Goanness is unique enough to expand the party, and leaders who have substantial influence in the state are joining us. It is a fact that Babush has great influence in two constituencies, where we are now set to have a strong presence,” Sardesai said.
The GFP president said Monserrate joining the party has also scuttled the opposition’s plan to destabilise the government.”The entry of Monserrate signifies a walkover for chief minister Manohar Parrikar in the Panaji bypolls. In that way, not only have we brought in Manohar Parrikar from the defence ministry but have also ensured his re-election as the MLA of Panaji,” Sardesai said.