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Rs 2500 ‘gift’ to Congress workers in Valpoi – to ‘support’ Vishwajit Rane and join BJP?

Certain congress workers in Valpoi have alleged that supporters and dalals of Vishwajit Rane were offering Rs 2500 per person or per signature to “support” the former Congress MLA and shift their loyalties to the BJP.

According to earlier media reports, Block Congress committee members from Valpoi in North Goa resigned in support of the former party MLA Vishwajit Rane, who joined the ruling BJP government.

Rane, who was elected from the Valpoi constituency in the recently held state polls, had resigned from the Congress last month and quit his Assembly membership after absenting himself from the House when Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had sought the trust vote.

As per media reports, the former Goa Congress legislator Vishwajit Rane on Thursday formally joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the presence of chief minister Manohar Parrikar. Parrikar told reporters that Rane would be inducted in the cabinet at the “right time”. Last week, the BJP legislature party unanimously passed a resolution to induct Rane in the party as well as the cabinet.

In his support, all Valpoi block Congress committee members, led by Laxmi Halwalkar, tendered their resignation from the primary membership of the party late last night.

“We, the Valpoi block Congress committee members are hereby submitting our resignation from the primary membership of the Congress with immediate effect as we have no faith in the leadership at the state and national level,” reads the resignation letter, signed by all block members.

The members said that Congress, which emerged as the largest party in the recent Goa Assembly elections, failed to form the government and betrayed the real party workers.

“We are with our leader Vishwajit Rane, who has taken the right step to join BJP. We are fully convinced that his step is for the development of our constituency. We can’t sit in the opposition for next five years,” Halwalkar told PTI.

“We have full faith in him. We have seen his leadership qualities and the development work he has done in Sattari taluka,” she said.

However, some other Congress workers have complained that Rane’s chamchas were offering Rs 2500 per signature in support of Vishwajit Rane and many of the block committee members were “forced” to append their signatures to the letter of support. “Some of them have just put their signatures because they were given money. Let us see, how many of them will actually vote for him, now that he is with the BJP,” said a local Congress leader.

All India Congress Committee (AICC) Secretary Girish Chodankar told media persons that the Congress party had a very strong base in the Valpoi constituency and was all set to defeat Vishwajit Rane, in the upcoming by-election.

In a statement Mr Chodankar said, ”The party has large support base here and its candidate will surely defeat Mr Rane, restoring the tally back to 17 in the State Legislative Assembly.”

Mr Chodankar, who visited Valpoi yesterday, said Mr Rane had betrayed not only the trust of the party but also the voters and the party.

”He is trying to project that the people of Valpoi are the bonded labour of this self-proclaimed prince and would rally behind him, no matter which party he joins. In fact, through this betrayal act, Mr Rane has hurt the pride of valpoikars and the coming by-election is the right time to give a fitting reply to ‘the opportunistic act’ of Vishwajit Rane,” Mr Chodankar said.

Mr Chodankar alleged that Mr Rane had joined the party to get into power but was trying to fool the people by saying that he had joined for the development.

“What is shocking is the claim of Vishwajit that he has resigned from Congress because people from his constituency wanted him to do so. This is an absolute lie. The real truth is that the people were never taken into confidence by Vishwajit while resigning. The act of Vishwajit was a shock he gave to the Congress supporters and the coming by-election is the time to give a fitting reply to his act by giving him a shock by defeating him,” Mr Chodankar said.

According to the AICC Secretary, voters at large are still with the Congress party, barring some office bearers of the block, who have trailed behind Mr Rane.

Mr Chodankar said party would consult congressmen and would reconstitute the PCC Block, Mahila Block, Youth Block, Seva Dal, Minority cell and booth committees very soon.

Rane is the son of Congress veteran and former Chief Minister Pratapsinh Rane, who was also elected to the Assembly from Poriem seat in North Goa during the recent state polls.

In the trust vote held in the House last month, Parrikar proved his majority with 12 legislators from BJP, three from Goa Forward Party, three from Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, three Independents and one from NCP voting in favour of the trust motion.

The opposition benches included 16 MLAs from Congress, as Rane had remained absent during the voting.

After failing to defeat the trust motion, the Goa Congress said it would seek disqualification of Rane from contesting elections for defying its whip to vote against the motion.

Rane, 46, was elected from Valpoi constituency and said he would be contesting a by-poll for the same seat. The date of the by-poll has not been announced yet but is not likely to be before July 2017.

Rane said he had taken the blessings of his father. He said his induction in the BJP was “unconditional” and he could contest the by-poll to get re-elected for the development of his constituency. However, in another media report, Rane junior said he is not in talking terms with his father.

Rane had blamed the Congress leadership, in particular Digvijay Singh, All India Congress Committee general secretary and Goa in-charge, for not moving fast enough to stake a claim for forming the government. Digvijay Singh had hit back, accusing Rane of hobnobbing with the BJP right from the beginning.

On Thursday in the presence of senior BJP leaders, including chief minister Manohar Parrikar, Rane along with his supporters joined the party at the BJP headquarters in Panaji.

“The Congress party failed me completely, despite getting a majority the party didn’t form the government. Looking at their indecisiveness I decided to join the party which looks at the progress and development of the state i.e. BJP,” said Rane while speaking to the media.

As for the reaction of his father and Poriem MLA Pratapsingh Rane on the son joining BJP, Vishwajit told Hindustan Times that he is not speaking to him.

“This is my decision. I have thought about the people from my constituency who reposed their trust in me,” he said.

On the possibility of his father pitting a candidate and campaigning against him during the Valpoi bypolls, Vishwajit said, “I am now committed to BJP and if need arises I will campaign against him as well.”

Speculation is rife within the party that during BJP chief Amit Shah’s rally on April 9, Rane could be sworn in as health minister.




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