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BJP, Cong eye regional parties, Independents for RS election

Panjim: Lobbying for the lone Rajya Sabha seat from Goa has begun, with the election scheduled on June 8. The ruling BJP and opposition Congress have started lobbying with the regional parties and Independents, to field an acceptable candidate. While the saffron party will shortlist its candidate on Friday, Congress is still undecided.The BJP, which is in power, has called its MLAs for a meeting on Friday to shortlist the candidate for the seat, as the party is eyeing a win ahead of the Presidential elections in July. There is no clarity as who the party would be fielding as its candidate, but it would have to be a person acceptable to the coalition partners Goa Forward, MGP and Independents, considering that saffron party has only 12 MLAs in the Assembly, following the resignation of Panjim MLA Sidharth Kuncolienkar.“Party’s legislative wing will meet on Friday to shortlist the candidate. It cannot be just BJP candidate as we are short in numbers in the State Assembly compared to the opposition,” a senior BJP leader said. “We will have to consult our coalition partners before finalising the candidate. It has to be a united decision. We are currently 12 and with coalition support we would be 20,” he added.
BJP is being backed by Goa Forward and MGP that have three MLAs each and three Independents.
Meanwhile, after failing to form the government despite having 17 seats in the Assembly, Congress is trying to retain the Rajya Sabha seat, currently held by Shantaram Naik. Claiming that it has support from non-Congress MLAs, it intends to field a neutral candidate, acceptable to others.“We will be fielding a candidate who will be acceptable to all parties, that is non-BJP parties. We will try to reach to a consensus soon,” Leader of the Opposition Chandrakant Kavalekar said, refusing to name anyone.Sources said there is a strong demand from Congress MLAs to elevate State Unit President Luizinho Faleiro to the Rajya Sabha. However, if that happens, the party strength in the
Assembly will fall by another MLA. The Congress currently has 16 MLAs and there is one from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).Goa Forward mentor and Minister Vijai Sardesai was unavailable for his comment but a senior party functionary said they are yet to take decision on RS poll. “Ideally, we will go with the ruling government as we are part of it but the decision will be taken by the MLAs. Let BJP first shortlist their candidate,” he said.Filing of nominations for the election will be between May 22 and 29. Naik’s term of office in the Rajya Sabha MP expires on July 28. [H]

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