Panaji: The BJP has denied a ticket to former Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar‘s son Utpal and picking former MLA Sidharth Kuncalienker for next month’s by-election in Panaji instead.

BJP’s central election committee announced Kuncalienker’s name on Sunday, 24 hours before the last day of filing of nominations for the by-poll which will be held on May 19.

Utpal said, “Anyone entering electoral politics faces hurdles, especially if one wants to ‘do clean work’. My father also faced such hurdles. But the party has taken its decision and I will do whatever is possible to retain the prestigious Panaji seat for the party.”

Analysts say quite a few factors favoured Sidharth, who won the Panaji seat twice with Parrikar’s backing. Having worked closely with Parrikar for many years, Sidharth has a better rapport with grassroots workers.

With former MLA Atanasio Monserrate contesting on Congress ticket, insiders say the battle promised to be a tough one. Though the party wanted Utpal, doubts were raised whether he would be able to retain the seat which BJP has won since 1994.

Besides, there was a lack of consensus in Utpal’s favour so it raised doubts if all factions within would work for his political debut.

Earlier this month, Utpal came into limelight by issuing a statement over an “insensitive” remark by NCP chief Sharad Pawar. Pawar had said that the late Goa chief minister relinquished his post at the Centre and returned to Goa because he did not agree with the Rafale fighter jet deal.

“This is yet another unfortunate and insensitive attempt to invoke my father’s name to push blatant falsehood for political gains,” Utpal had said then. In a statement, Utpal said the Parrikar family was saddened to read Pawar’s remarks.