‘From underdog, I’m now the front-runner’
Panaji: With campaigning coming to an end, Congress candidate Girish Chodankar on Monday expressed confidence and said that a strong undercurrent in Panaji had propelled him from underdog to front-runner in the upcoming Panaji byelection.
“I started off as a back-bencher, with many people saying that the Congress had no one to field in Panaji and that I would lose my deposit. But today, the response, the blessings, the support and the backing that I have received from the people of Panaji have made me the front-runner,” Chodankar said.
Narrating anecdotes about residents welcoming him and offering him sweets during his door-to-door campaign, Chodankar said that Ponnjekars, out of self-esteem, would vote for change this time and in favour of the Congress. “This election is not about who is bigger, Parrikar or Girish. In this election, it is the people of Panaji who are big. Ponnjekars will give us direction,” he said.
“A sitting chief minister is getting his friends, his MLAs, and leaders from other parties to campaign for him against a small man like me. This is a clear indication that he is scared and hence, has resorted to asking these people to appeal for votes on his behalf,” the Congress candidate said.
Chodankar is counting on historical trends for the Panaji constituency, where voters have extended support to unconventional candidates. “Ponnjekar have given direction to Goa’s electoral results and they decide how Goa can progress. Mhadav Bir, Vishnu Naik, J B Gonsalves and Manohar Parrikar were out of box candidates who became MLAs,” he said.
Chodankar also taunted town and country planning minister Vijai Sardesai for giving Parrikar a clean chit. “I agree with Sardesai that Parrikar has really changed. He is not the same person as he was when first elected from Panaji and given love and support by the voters. Now he has changed and brought in changes that the people of Panaji don’t like,” Chodankar said.