Tuesday 16 July 2019

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Politics | Lok Sabha '98

Khalap hobnobbing with BJP

 

The United Front is cracking, thanks to union law minister Ramakant Khalap, the sole MP from the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party.

If he cannot join the party, which he always described communal, he may try and contest election with its support, like the MGP had done in ’94 Assembly polls in Goa.

While rumours have been going round for many days now, Goa Pradesh Congress chief Shantaram Naik has openly alleged that Khalap has been hobnobbing with the BJP. "Let him tell us whether he is secular or communal", Naik says.

The law minister also does not deny it altogether, though he dismisses the news of he joining the BJP.

He had won the last polls hardly by 9000 votes. Now it is more troublesome as almost all the parties have fielded such candidates, which would eat up the MGP vote bank.

In order to counter these moves, he is reportedly also trying to join hands with the Congress, even by going to the extent of joining them.

The ruling Congress is trying to field former chief minister Ravi Naik, hailing from Bhandari community while BJP’s candidate is his former colleague Pandurang Raut, who belongs to Khalap’s Maratha community.

Churchill Alemao has also fielded Khalap’s former colleague Babuso Gaonkar, an OBC leader, which is also the MGP’s vote bank.

Using his close connection with deputy chief minister Wilfred de Souza, who is believed to be close to Sonia Gandhi’s camp, Khalap learnt to have been also trying to be the Congress candidate.

This is the reason, feel local Congressmen, why the Congress did not announce the North Goa candidate last week. If not Khalap, then de Souza is trying to manage a weak party candidate which would benefit the law minister.

On the other hand, Khalap has also reportedly met BJP president L K Advani, to try and forge an alliance with the party, like the MGP had aligned in Assembly polls in 1994.

But it may boomerang on Khalap as the local BJP leaders have vehemently opposed the move while also threatening not to work in North Goa.

When asked, Khalap denied the news of joining the Congress or the BJP, but did not deny that he has been meeting leaders of all the political parties to help him win the elections.

The MGP sources reveal that the announcement has been postponed as he will have to resign from the ministry the same day.






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