With the Panaji mayor's term ending after a period of one year, lobbying is heating up with all camps expressing confidence over their chances of ruling over the corporation of the city of Panaji (CCP).
Of the 30 councillors, the ruling BJP panel has 14 councillors and was supported by the husband wife duo Surendra and Ruth Furtado during last year's elections. The ruling panel includes Tony Rodrigues and former mayor Carolina Po, who were earlier part of the present opposition panel that owes allegiance to St Cruz MLA Atanasio 'Babush' Monserrate.
With the prospect of any of the ruling councillors breaking away very slim, the Furtado camp — both independent councillors — holds the key to the elections.
When contacted, Surendra Furtado refused to divulge his plans, but told TOI that neither panel had approached him as yet for the forthcoming elections. He said he wished both the panels well in the coming elections adding to the suspense.
Furtado's non-committal stance is interesting considering that he had recently lashed out at the CCP administration during a monthly meeting over the sorry state of affairs in the city, before walking out of the meeting. The Furtados had also supported an opposition resolution for a ban on commercial exhibitions and film shoots in the city. Sources say Furtado is lobbying for the post.
It appears the BJP panel will manage to get one of its councillors become the new mayor. With a BJP government firmly in saddle and the CCP facing a financial crisis, the odds weigh against the Monserrate camp.
Current mayor Vaidehi Naik told TOI that the ruling panel will take a call on its candidates soon and hinted that she will be in the fray by virtue of being the sitting mayor. Sources say chances of Naik continuing as mayor for another term are very high.
Deputy mayor Tony Rodrigues is also rumoured to have staked his claim to become mayor yet again, having earlier been mayor as part of the Babush panel. In view of the multiple claimants to the post, a final decision on the ruling panel's candidates has been left to chief minister Manohar Parrikar, said sources.
The opposition camp is likely to field Rudresh Chodankar and Kabir Pinto Makhija as candidates, said sources. The two are among the most vocal opposition councillors at CCP meetings together with former mayor Yatin Parekh and Bento Lorena. [TOI]