Two weeks after Congress legislators Dayanand Sopte and Subhash Shirodkar defected to the BJP, there are allegations on how the two benefited from their crossover, claims an India Today report.
Interacting with his supporters at Mandrem in north Goa on October 21, Sopte boasted that he had demanded a cabinet berth in lieu of the defection. He also claimed he’d be inducted as minister before November 15. Patting a Ganesha locket, the MLA swore he hadn’t taken any money from the BJP and only wanted “constituency issues to be resolved”.
Shirodkar, who represents Shiroda in south Goa, got himself into more trouble. Media reports claimed the state industries department had agreed to pay Vedanta Real Estate Developers, a firm the MLA and his brothers run, Rs 3,500 per square metre for 1,83,524 sq. m. of orchard land in Shiroda acquired in 2012 for an industrial township. This, reports stated, was way higher than the Rs 350 per sq. m. another land owner who had volunteered to give his land for the project had asked for as compensation. Vedanta was expected to rake in Rs 70 crore, of which Rs 6.5 crore had already been paid.
Shirodkar claimed the state government started paying in instalments only six years after acquiring the land, that too after he met Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar last year. “I could have earned big interest had I received the money in time,” the MLA said, claiming the compensation was “based on the latest land deal in the area”. The Congress has said it will challenge the land deal in court.
Amid all this, the defections caused trouble within the BJP.
Furious with Sopte’s induction, former chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar questioned Parrikar’s strategy to form a government despite not having a majority in the assembly. Parsekar, who lost the poll to Sopte, declared he wouldn’t support his candidature as a BJP nominee in the upcoming bypoll in Mandrem.
Meanwhile, the Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM), mentored by former RSS functionary Subhash Velingkar, sees the dissent within the BJP as an opportunity to enter the assembly. Believed to have earned respect as a teacher in Mandrem, Velingkar is likely to be fielded by the party in the bypoll. Political analysts believe the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), though a coalition partner of the BJP, is upset with its refusal to make Sudin Dhavalikar the chief minister during Parrikar’s illness, and is also likely to support the GSM in a tacit understanding.
Meanwhile, the BJP is considering health minister Vishwajit Rane, assembly speaker Pramod Sawant and state president Vinay Tendulkar as possible successors to Parrikar. Sawant called on RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on October 22 to make a pitch for himself. And Rane is keen on poaching more MLAs from his former party, the Congress, who can vouch for him.