Ravi bird of the same feather : CM

SANDESH PRABHUDESAI, PANAJI | 10 May 2002 23:33 IST

With his deputy chief minister Ravi Naik quitting the Bharatiya Janata Party to contest as the Congress candidate, chief minister Manohar Parrikar claims it will improve party's clean image further.

"Birds of the same feather have flocked together", he commented at a crowded press conference here in the evening, stating that those who were feeling uncomfortable in the party due to its corruption-free agenda were bound to leave it.

He however declined to give a straight reply whether his cabinet colleagues, who had quit the party, were corrupt. "It is for you to interpret", he quipped. Most of them are likely to get Congress tickets for the elections, scheduled for 30 May.

Since the Assembly was dissolved midway on 27 February, at least four BJP ministers have quit the party, to join the Congress. Besides Naik, it includes Ramakant Khalap, Sanjay Bandekar and Jose Philip D'Souza.

Parrikar also claims that Naik's action had not come as a surprise but was anticipated. Referring to his suspicious movement, he said Naik even did not file his nomination from Ponda while also not attending candidate's meeting or arranging campaign programme.

Being known for his organisational skill and having support of majority Bhandari community in the state, Naik's last-minute exit however is bound to hamper party prospects in the state, though Parrikar claims otherwise.

According to Naik, however, he was left with no alternative as party cadres in Ponda were not co-operating with him but were on a humiliation campaign. He had joined the saffron brigade in October 2000, quitting the Congress when he was heading the opposition benches.

Naik also said he never favoured Parrikar's sudden action to dissolve the Assembly within 32 months and impose elections on the people of Goa. Parrikar however refutes it stating that Naik was the first one to be taken into confidence about the action.

Though the BJP claims that Naik's action was anticipated, the saffron party has to now withdraw all the campaign booklets that had cover-page photograph of Naik with Parrikar. The party website has also immediately removed his photo from the home page.

The mood in the Congress camp however appeared upbeat with Naik's homecoming, while the party is also now armed with other defectors like Khalap, Bandekar, D'Souza etc who had deserted them to join the saffron brigade.


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