Khalap quits BJP to contest from Mandrem

SANDESH PRABHUDESAI, PANAJI | 06 May 2002 22:00 IST

Ramakant Khalap, who had resigned as a minister from the Bharatiya Janata Party government last week, finally quit the saffron brigade to contest from his Mandrem constituency.

The former union law minister was denied party ticket in the coming Assembly elections, to accommodate local BJP president Laxmikant Parsekar.

Gopinath Munde, the BJP national vice-president, however later claimed that Khalap even denied the offer to contest from Mandrem. He arrived in Goa today on a three-day election campaign visit.

Khalap, as the candidate of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, had defeated Parsekar in the last Assembly elections held in June 1999. However, he later defected to the Congress and then the BJP.

While his 18-month honeymoon with the saffronites came to an end, the silver-haired veteran politician of Goa is yet to decide whether to approach any other party or contest as an independent.

"My supporters have given me free hand to decide in the matter", Khalap told this reporter today morning.

After resigning as the minister last week, he had met union minister Pramod Mahajan, who was given responsibility to decide on Khalap's matter. Reportedly, Khalap was once again persuaded to accept the post of the governor of a state like Jharkhand.

"No question of accepting any post of the governor, I will remain here in Goa and test my strength", Khalap said. Rather than blaming anybody in particular, Khalap however said the local leadership created such kind of situation that prompted him to quit the BJP.

Munde however claims that somehow Khalap was psychologically not prepared to stay in the BJP, while declining to reveal the reasons behind it. "We tried our level best to keep him with us, giving him several proposals", said the Maharashtra leader.


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