The six-time chief minister Pratapsingh Rane, who has famously never lost an election, will be up against his daughter-in-law Divya Rane, who has been announced as the BJP candidate for Poriem, a constituency that the senior Rane has represented since 1972 back when Goa was still a Union Territory and the constituency was called Satari. The 82-year-old Rane has made a series of flip flops on whether he will be contesting the elections.
Pratapsingh Rane, a 10-term legislator, is Goa’s longest serving MLA. He also holds a record for having served as chief minister of the state for a little less than 16 years across six terms between 1980 and 2007. He was the assembly speaker between 2007 and 2012. He has been continuously elected since 1972 to the then legislative assembly of the Union Territory of Goa, Daman and Diu.
After he initially announced that he would be contesting the upcoming elections, following the ‘requests’ of his workers and supporters, the Congress promptly announced that Rane would be the party’s candidate from the Poriem constituency. His decision was met with derision by his son Vishwajit Rane, a minister in the BJP government and legislator representing the neighboring Valpoi constituency. Vishwajit, who is nurturing dreams of his wife getting elected from the seat represented by his father, quite unkindly, suggested that his father should “retire gracefully”, and even threatened that the situation can get quite “messy”.
Rane has also been quick to counter BJP leaders every time they have suggested that he was quitting the Congress or that he was retiring from politics or that he has given his ‘consent’ to the BJP to field his daughter-in-law from his seat. In the 1980s, dissidents within the ruling Congress party sought to dislodge Rane from power, by appealing to New Delhi mostly unsuccessfully. Some of his later tenures in power earned criticism allegedly because of growing corruption during his regime.
He was leader of the Opposition while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled Goa from the late-1990s until early 2005. His critics, like the then editor of the local Goa newspaper Herald or O Heraldo, Rajan Narayan criticized Rane for not doing enough as the leader of the Opposition. Rane became chief minister after the Congress’s first-ever win in Goa in 1980 mainly as a “consensus candidate”, after a bitter battle for the top political slot between the then two Congress heavyweights, Dr Wilfred de Souza and Anant Narcinva Naik, also known as Babu Naik. Naik was subsequently largely marginalized in state politics, while Souza served under Rane in some of his cabinets.
After 5 years of BJP rule, Rane began his fifth term as chief minister in February 2005 after the government fell due to a split in the Goa BJP. A month later, however, the state was put under president’s rule for three months. Rane then served as chief minister for the sixth time, for two years until the June 2007 state elections. Though the Congress Party and its allies won a comfortable majority, Rane was forced to step aside as chief minister due to infighting within the state Congress party, and was forced to step aside in favor of a neutral candidate, Digambar Kamat.
Rane was, however, elected speaker of the state assembly when it reconvened a few days later. After the BJP attempted a “show of strength” to take over the Goa house, they were stifled by Rane. The BJP accused Rane of acting in a partisan manner to protect the Congress led government. On 21 December, the Congress high-command in Delhi approved Pratapsingh Rane’s nomination from the Poriem constituency. Rane being hardcore Congress man understand his party needs and he is all geared up to take on BJP.
Vishwajit, a former Congress leader, joined the BJP in 2o17. The MLA from Valpoi, who is also the health minister of Goa, is believed to have wanted his wife to contest from his seat while he moved to Poriem. Poriem and Valpoi — adjoining constituencies on the Karnataka-Goa border — have been bastions of the Rane family. While Pratapsingh had himself written to the Congress high-command to approve his nomination, he appeared non-committal in a press conference on 21 December.
Rane always stirred some or the other controversies, and also is accused by businessman Bhalchandra Naik for demanding Rs 10 Crore for being granted Environmental clearance for a mine, of which Rs 6 Crore had been paid to his son Vishwajit Rane, MLA from Valpoi. Recently Into a controversy for calling Goans in the UK as toilet cleaners. BJP can take advantage of these controversies by labeling Congress as a corrupt party, but Goen people are far away from national gossip, they will vote for him for his long bond with them. BJP is losing its leaders in Goa and also losing some seats to Congress veterans. Aam Aadmi, TMC, Rashtrawadi and Shiv Sena all are united to take on BJP in Goa, lets see who wins and how senior Rane can dent BJP’s seat.