Congress begins exercise to field candidate in Panaji seat

Panaji, Jul 29 (PTI) The Congress and other parties have begun the exercise to field a common candidate against Manohar Parrikar in the upcoming Panaji by-election scheduled on August 23.

The Congress which has decided to contest the by-election in Panaji along with Valpoi held a series of meetings today in capital city chaired by Goa Pradesh Congress committee president Shantaram Naik to shortlist the candidates.

The party had almost finalised the candidature of former minister Atanasio Monserratte to contest from Panaji, but he left the party to join Goa Forward Party, said party sources.

Congress sources confirmed that after the exit of Monserratte, the party has zeroed in on ex-mayor of Corporation of City of Panaji (CCP) Ashok Naik.

After the meeting, Shantaram Naik told PTI that “the party will field its own candidates in both the constituencies, and the parties which are willing to defeat BJP should join the hands with us.”

“The talks are yet to begin with any of the party but congress will welcome the support,” he said.

Naik said names of both the candidates would be announced on Monday by the Congress.

The name of Ashok Naik has been considered as he would be acceptable to majority of parties which are not with the BJP-led government, said party sources.

“Ashok Naik has been at the helm of affairs at the CCP between 2001-2006 and is known for his simplicity. There are various leaders from other parties who are willing to support him,” a senior Congress leader said, refusing to be quoted.

He said that the exercise to have a dialogue with parties like the Goa Suraksha Manch and the Aam Aadmi Party has already begun.

When contacted, Ashok Naik said “Congress had approached me with the offer to contest in Panaji by-election. I met their leaders. I have told them that I will consult my supporters and well wishers and get back on Monday.”

He claimed that there are several BJP workers too, who are supporting him.

When contacted, GSM President Anand Shirodkar said the party is yet to take a stand on whether to support consensus candidate or not.

“It will depend entirely on the situation,” he said.

SOURCE: PTI