Even as the field has become clear for the Valpoi by-polls, the race to contest from Benaulim Assembly constituency is getting murkier with both the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party staking their claim for this seat.
The next assembly elections will be conducted as per the reconstituted constituencies wherein the present Benaulim constituency has been bifurcated into two constituencies – Benaulim and Nuvem. The present MLA representing Benaulim Micky Pacheco has already announced his decision to contest from Nuvem constituency thereby throwing the Benaulim constituency open for grabs.
Public Works Department Minister Churchill Alemao who earlier represented Benaulim constituency was the first to stake his claim by promoting his daughter Valanka as the Congress candidate from that constituency.
Valanka even opened her election office in the village of Benaulim on which occasion it was made clear that even if the Congress does not field Valanka, she would contest the elections as an independent.
To make things difficult for Churchill, his enemies within the Congress party Luizinho Faleiro and Francisco Sardinha have joined hands to promote the candidature of Francis alias Franky Sequeira from Benaulim.
Given the fact that Luizinho Faleiro is a permanent invitee to the Congress Working Committee – the party’s highest decision making body – and Francisco Sardinha being the MP, both reportedly have access to party president Sonia Gandhi to mar Churchill’s chances of getting his daughter nominated.
Besides, Luizinho Faleiro is waiting to get back at Churchill for delivering him a shock defeat in his own Navelim constituency at the last elections, while Francisco Sardinha has to settle scores with Churchill for being the cause of his defeat at two assembly elections in Curtorim constituency – first to Anton Gaunkar and second to Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco.
To further confuse the situation, Micky Pacheco has asserted that his party should get the Benaulim constituency and has even started promoting Dr. Hubert Gomes as the candidate from this constituency.