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Caste, religion matter for Congress in Goa

Posted on Mar 20 2014 | IANS

Panaji, March 19 : Just how much the Congress values caste and religion in the Lok Sabha ticket distribution process stumbled out in the open at the party headquarters here Wednesday.

Addressing a press conference, party leader Pratima Coutinho told reporters that the two candidates announced by the Congress were picked on the basis of their caste and religion.

"The party has done a good job by giving one ticket to the Bhandari samaj and another for minorities," Coutinho said.

She was defending the party's decision to field former home minister Ravi Naik from North Goa and Aleixo Reginaldo, a Catholic, from South Goa.

Her comments come at a time when Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi has been saying that performance and clean image would be the key criterion when it comes to nominating party candidates.

The Bhandari caste accounts for nearly 30 percent of the Hindu population of Goa. It is a force to reckon with in North Goa.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has also fielded three-time MP Shripad Naik as its candidate for the seat.

Electorally, the South Goa seat is seen as a different kettle of fish. The seat is seen to favour Catholic candidates barring exceptions.

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