BJP defeated in Mormugoa LS, Lanji assembly constituencies

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Panaji/Bhopal, Nov 3 (UNI) The BJP today suffered defeat in October 31 byelections to Mormugoa Lok Sabha constituency in south Goa and Lanji assembly constituency in Madhya Pradesh's Balaghat district.

Goa Pradesh Congress Committee President Francisco Sardinha won the Mormugao seat with about 41,000 votes over his BJP rival Dr Wilfred Mesquita.

Kishore Samrite of the Samajwadi Party defeated BJP's Dhareshwari Bhatere, wife of former minister Dilip Bhatere, by a margin of 3734 votes in Lanji assembly constituency.

Mr Sardinha polled about 1.18 lakh votes against 78,000 by the BJP, while Mr Samrite polled a total of 28,779 votes as against 25,045 polled by Ms Bhatere.

The two Independent candidates-- Khan Hamza and Jawahar L Dias -- lost their deposits in the Mormugoa Lok Sabha constituency, which has 21 assembly segments. The Congress candidate Bhagwat Bhau Nagpure from Lanji came a distant third polling 11,738 votes.

The Congress retained the Mormugao Lok Sabha seat amid a dismal turnout of 35.92 per cent due to lack of interest among the total 560,000 voters.

The byelection in the Mormugao Lok Sabha constituency was a sequel to the resignation of Congress rebel Churchill Alemao from the Lok Sabha on May 8 in his ''over-ambition'' to form government in Goa after June 2 elections to the assembly on the regional outfit, Save Goa Front (SGF), he was heading.

The byelection in Lanji was necessitated by the death of former minister Dilip Bhatere of BJP.

To Mr Alemao's dismay, the SGF got only two seats-- one for himself from Navelim and his colleague Reginaldo Laurenco from Curtorim. He had defeated former Education Minister and a giant in Goan politics Luizinho Faleiro while Mr Laurenco trounced the veteran Francisco Sardinha.

Mr Sardinha was elected in 1998 on a Congress ticket against the BJP.

Itching for power, Mr Alemao joined the Digambar Kamat-led coalition government as the PWD minister after deserting the BJP-led Goa Democratic Alliance (GDA) purportedly on a condition that the Congress high command would offer the party ticket to his advocate daughter Valenka to contest from Mormugao.

But, the Congress gave the ticket to the GPCC President and his staunch rival Francisco Sardinha at the last minute with Mr Alemao failing to ''merge'' the SGF with the Congress as agreed upon for issuing the ticket to his daughter.

Despite a partner in the coalition government, Mr Alemao made his absence conspicuous in all the election meetings held by the Congress as he felt humiliated by the Congress high command which denied the ticket to his daughter.

Incidentally, Dr Mesqueta, who was till recently the strategist and right hand man of Mr Alemao as SGF general secretary, quit the SGF along with the party's founder president Sidhanath Bouyao following differences with Mr Alemao which they thought had converted the party into his feifdom for ''selfish ends.'' The duo was immediately inducted into the BJP and Dr Mesqueta was given the party ticket as he represented the christian community, which could play a trump card among the south Goa electorate.

Mr Mesquita, who started his political career on the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, was supported by the other regional outfit - United Goans Democratic party.

The MGP, however, officially announced its support to the Congress in the byelection with the Congress indicating withdrawal of the disqualification petition against Davlikar brothers pending with the disposal by the Speaker of the state legislative assembly that raptured Congress-MGP relations.

The two MGP legislator brothers, it might be recalled, were forced to approach the Supreme Court challenging Speaker Pratapsingh Rane's order restraining them from voting in the crucial vote of confidence in the House on July 30 following a disqualifiction petition filed against them by a Congress legislator.

The legislator Agnelo Fernandes, however, approached the Supreme Court stating that he was ready to withdraw the disqualification petition with the byelection process for Mormugao underway.

The apex court directed the Speaker to dispose off the disqualification petition within three weeks in the light of the withdrawal notice issued by Mr Fernandes.

Mr Sardinha's immediate priority was to move a private members' Bill in the Lok Sabha for amending the ''Cruelty to Animals Act'' so that ''buffalo fights'' were legalised.


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