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Race for Goa CM's post hots up, Deputy Chief Minister Francis D'Souza throws hat into the ring

PTI 07 Nov 2014, 21:54:11 PM IST

Panaji: The race for the Goa Chief Minister's post intensified today with Deputy Chief Minister Francis D'Souza throwing his hat into the ring as Health Minister Laxmikant Parsekar emerged the front-runner to succeed Manohar Parrikar.

"I am chief ministerial material. I will not be reporting to the junior," D'Souza, BJP's Christian face in Goa, told reporters at the airport on his arrival from abroad.

Though names of both Parsekar and D'Souza, besides state Assembly Speaker Rajendra Arlekar were doing the rounds as successor to Parrikar who is tipped to shift to the union cabinet, the Deputy Chief Minister's claim to the post may make the proceedings a little difficult tomorrow when BJP Legislature Party meets to elect its new leader.

"I will not take oath tomorrow if I am not made the Chief Minister. What future action I will take, I will decide after that," D'Souza told PTI before going for the meeting of the state cabinet this evening.

Earlier in the day, he told a TV channel that denying him the CM's post will have an "adverse" impact on BJP's voters from the minority community.

"I clearly did not expect it that way. Minorities saw BJP as an alternative to Congress and were responding very well. It could be felt that way that a minority candidate was sidelined. It is not my feeling but the response I am getting from my supporters indicates that," he said.

Several BJP legislators including Vishnu Wagh, Kiran Kandolkar, Carlose Almeida, Micheal Lobo and Glenn Ticlo have openly extended their support to D'Souza.

"We met him (D'Souza). We told him that he should stake claim for the CM's post," Wagh said.

"As per existing cabinet hierarchy, D'Souza is number two after Parrikar. So when number one is displaced, number two becomes number one. You cannot get number four or five on the top," Wagh said.

He said D'Souza was holding charge as a Chief Minister in the absence of Parrikar.

Talking about D'Souza's administrative experience, Wagh said "from 1999 onwards, D'Souza is a minister. He has enough administrative experience."

Maintaining that BJP needs to send a clear message across the country that it is not sidelining the minority community, he said D'Souza would be the right choice.

Parrikar is scheduled to resign tomorrow after a meeting of the central parliamentary board of BJP in New Delhi. A meeting of BJP legislature party will be held here to choose his successor.

"The BJP parliamentary board would be meeting in Delhi tomorrow morning (to decide Parrikar's successor). After that, I will resign and within two hours the new Chief Minister would be sworn-in," Parrikar told reporters after attending a crucial meeting of party legislators here this morning to discuss the names of his successor.

During the meeting, three names - state Health Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, Assembly Speaker Rajendra Arlekar and Deputy Chief Minister Francis D'Souza - were shortlisted for the top post, sources said.