Panaji: Political fangs will be bared Wednesday onwards as the process of filing nominations begins in Goa, which has two seats in the Lok Sabha.
The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party have one seat each in the outgoing house.
Sitting BJP MP and mill owner-turned-realtor Shripad Naik will take on former chief minister Ravi Naik, who has been accused of drug links.
In the Catholic dominated South Goa constituency, BJP advocate Narendra Savoikar will contest against Reginaldo Lourenco of the Congress, who pipped sitting MP Francisco Sardinha at the last minute.
The only other outfit which has announced candidates for both the seats is the Aam Aadmi Party, which has nominated activists Dattaram Desai and Swati Kerkar for the North Goa and South Goa seats.
As far as the preparations go, the BJP had tipped Naik and Savoikar to be their candidates months in advance, much before the party’s parliamentary board could formally announce their names.
Savoikar, who is presently the chairman of the state law commission and narrowly lost to the Congress candidate in the 2009 polls, has been canvassing for support for over two years now.
Shripad Naik believes that the last minute nomination of the tainted Ravi Naik has only made his job easier.
“Of course his nomination would help me. People know what all he has done. They will remember that when they cast their vote,” Shripad Naik said.
Ravi Naik has been indicted by a legislative committee for his links to Goa’s drug mafia.
But the Congress believes that his caste credentials (Ravi, like Shripad belongs to the Bhandari caste which accounts for nearly 30 percent of the Hindu vote) and his seniority in the party won him the ticket.
“If Ravi manages to split the Bhandari vote, we are certainly in for a chance against Shripad,” a Congress official said.
In South Goa, things appear to be going BJP’s Narendra Savoikar way at least for the moment. His chances are brighter thanks to confusion and simmering in the Congress ranks. The party which until now had backed Sardinha for the seat, changed its mind last minute, finally selecting a youngster and a sitting legislator Aleixo Reginaldo for the post.
“This is a decision of the high command. They thought it fit to choose him,” party president John Fernandes told reporters.
As far as the AAP is concerned, the party has struggled to break out of low key mode yet. Apart from press conferences and corner meetings, most of which have seen poor attendance. A rally protesting against casinos held in Panaji Monday, one of the first major poll offensives, saw less than 30 persons sloganeering outside casino offices in Panaji.
Goa goes to the polls April 12.