Rift in BJP continues, veterans want Vinay to stop as head of state

Mapusa: On Thursday, the ‘disenchanted’ BJP veterans kept a date with themselves as they converged on Mapusa MLA Francis D’Souza’s residence to chalk out their action plan amid growing fissures in the cadre-based party. After an hour and a half, former chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar came out to announce their decision: Vinay Tendulkar must resign as the state party president and the party structure should change.
Parsekar, the most vocal among them and one of the founding members of BJP in Goa along with former speaker Rajendra Arlekar, had on October 20 told TOI that the party’s state unit must be reconstituted and Tendulkar must be replaced as the president.

Though Arlekar wasn’t present at Thursday’s meet, Parsekar echoed the views of the senior leaders that included besides him and D’Souza, former ministers Dayanand Mandrekar and Mahadev Naik and former speaker Anant Shet.

“People across the state feel he (Tendulkar) should go. The party workers are also of the same view,” Parsekar said.

The state unit of the BJP has seen a growing schism between the veterans and their juniors since chief minister Manohar Parrikar fell ill. It all erupted in the open after two Congressmen—Dayanand Sopte and Subhash Shirodkar—were inducted to the party “without consulting” the core committee members. Parsekar and others have accused Tendulkar of keeping them in the dark and trying to shift the entire blame on central leadership led by party president Amit Shah.

“If he (Tendulkar) can’t take decisions, he is unfit to continue as the state president,” Parsekar said.

He said every time there was a major development in the party, Tendulkar always pointed towards Delhi and said it was their decision. Be it the decision to drop D’Souza and Pandurang Madkaikar from the cabinet and induct Milind Naik and Nilesh Cabral or bringing in Sopte and Shirodkar into the party, Tendulkar always said that it was the decision of Shah and team, Parsekar said.

“Local karyakartas are agitated about the recent developments. Many have approached us.” Parsekar also said they have conveyed the feelings to the central leadership and they were bound to act but refused to say what would their next course of action be if the Delhi leaders ignored them.

Parsekar also refused to be drawn into the government functioning or whether Parrikar should step down. “The chief minister is unwell and I will not like to comment. But the administration has to be active,” he said.

Parsekar also said they would continue to meet as “things cannot be completed in one meeting”.

He said, On Wednesday, South Goa MP Narendra Sawaikar, speaker Pramod Sawant and party treasurer Sanjeev Desai had visited him at his Mandrem residence but he could not speak to them as he was busy with Laxmi puja and had many visitors.

“I have agreed to meet them tomorrow (Friday),” he said.

Party sources said the BJP state leadership has been trying to pacify these “disgruntled” veterans and had gone with the intention to dissuade them from holding Thursday’s meeting. Tendulkar and general secretary Sadanand Shet Tanavade had met D’Souza, too, but they described it as a courtesy call to enquire about his health.

D’Souza has been upset since he was dropped from the ministry while undergoing medical treatment in the US and had also said that Tendulkar should step down from the party presidentship post. He had also complained that none of the state BJP leaders have even once enquired about his health while he was away from the state.

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