Panaji: Far away from the ‘naamdar’ versus ‘kamdaar’ debate initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Delhi durbar, extolling the virtues of labour over lineage, in tiny Goa, the BJP appears to have developed a weakness for the latter of late.
Ahead of the 2019 polls, the Goa edition of the saffron party, which in the past used the ‘dynasty’ debate to good effect while attacking the Congress ‘family raj’, now appears to have developed a taste for dynasty too. But this time round, the BJP and its allies prefer to give an alternative spin to the phenomenon: legacy.
The dynasty debate kick-started more than a month ago when former deputy Chief Minister late Francis D’Souza’s son Joshua was picked to represent his father’s seat in the Mapusa Assembly constituency, one of the four by-polls due in the state in two phases.
A virtual non-entity in politics, Joshua was picked to further his father’s “legacy” at the expense of D’Souza’s ‘Man Friday’ Sudhir Kandolkar, who subsequently quit the party and is contesting from the same Assembly seat on a Congress ticket.
“It is my father’s legacy that I have decided to carry forward. By entering politics and contesting on the same seat as my father, I want to give back to the people who have supported him over decades,” Joshua D’Souza said.
In Panaji, where by-polls have been necessitated by the death of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, the BJP is now rooting for the departed leader’s elder son, Utpal, to carry forward the former Defence Minister’s ‘legacy’.
While the official word isn’t out yet on his candidature for Panaji, there is ample indication to believe that Parrikar’s son will brook no stopping, especially after he has made all the politically correct comments, since Utpal and his brother Abhijat last month, announced their intention to carry forward his father’s legacy of service to the state and country.
Utpal has dismissed the barbs about dynasty and lack of experience, saying it is only up to the people of Goa to decide his political worth.
“My people of Panaji might decide what kind of material I am. People of Goa will decide what kind of material I am,” Utpal Parrikar has maintained, virtually throwing his hand in the ring for the Panaji Assembly by-poll which is due on May 19.
For now, Utpal has been ‘requested’ by the state BJP to canvass in Panaji for Union Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik, who is contesting the North Goa Lok Sabha seat for the fifth time.
BJP insiders believe Utpal’s involvement in canvassing for Naik, will help the party gauge the response of Panaji voters to him and help tinker the chemistry for the upcoming Panaji by-poll.
“Since Utpal has never been in active politics, his canvassing for the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections will help us understand his connect with the people. We can work around the connection for his Assembly by-poll contest,” a state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader said on condition of anonymity.
The Congress, however, has been refusing to bite the “legacy” bait, insisting that the era of the “rising son” has now descended on the BJP in Goa.
“In the past, they targeted the Congress for promoting family raj. But they have no qualms raising dynasties in their own fold. The elevation of Joshua and Utpal shows that the time has come for the sons to rise in BJP,” Congress spokesperson Trajano D’Mello said.