New Delhi: The Goa BJP is up in arms over the induction of the 10 Congress MLAs, in particular the controversial Panaji MLA Atanasio ‘Babush’ Monserrate and former leader of the opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar, into the party unit.
Leading the charge is Rajendra Arlekar, a former assembly speaker and minister in the previous Manohar Parrikar government. Arlekar is also among the founding members of the Goa BJP. He has said the BJP has all but finished the legacy of the former chief minister, the late Manohar Parrikar, by inducting “controversial and corrupt leaders such as Monserrate and Kavlekar”.
According to Arlekar, the BJP core committee was not consulted on the decision and that BJP president Amit Shah was “misled” by some people to allow the induction of the 10 MLAs without following any kind of decision-making process.
On Thursday, Manohar Parrikar’s son Utpal Parrikar had also slammed the decision, saying the BJP had finished his father’s legacy in the Goa politics with this.
Senior leaders in the Goa BJP are now pointing their fingers at the state’s organisational secretary Satish, accusing him of having played a big role in facilitating the defection of these Congress MLAs. According to them, large amounts of money were allegedly involved in this game of cross overs.
A couple of years ago, the RSS had transferred Satish from Goa due to several charges of corruption; he was asked to oversee organisational work in Thane, Maharashtra. He, however, recently returned as organisational secretary of the Goa BJP and it has fuelled serious resentment in the state unit.
We are deeply grateful to our readers & viewers for their time, trust and subscriptions.
Quality journalism is expensive and needs readers to pay for it. Your support will define our work and ThePrint’s future.
The furore over Monserrate
The Goa BJP is particularly perturbed by the induction of Babush Monserrate, a former minister.
Monserrate — who was once the mastermind behind the dethroning of Manohar Parrikar — is dubbed as the poster boy of Goa’s money and liquor-laden politics. He has several heinous cases against him and is facing trial for the alleged rape of a minor girl in 2016.
Monserrate has been charged under the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) for rape and wrongful restraint and even spent eight days in jail in the case. The survivor had alleged that Monserrate bought her for Rs 50 lakh, kept her in illegal confinement for several days and repeatedly raped her.
Monserrate was instrumental in the Congress snatching the Panaji seat from the BJP after 25 years when he defeated BJP’s Siddharth Kunkolienkar in the bypoll following Parrikar’s death in March. In fielding Kunkolienkar, the BJP high command had overlooked the claims of Parrikar’s son Utpal Parrikar.
The BJP had, in fact, run a high-voltage campaign during the May bypoll on the slogan ‘Save Goa from Babush’. Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had then turned Monserrate “misdeeds” into a huge electoral issue, even saying that no girl in Goa would feel safe if Monserrate won.
Is Kavlekar a potential deputy CM?
There are also fears in the Goa BJP that Kavlekar, the former leader of the opposition, may be placated with a deputy chief minister post. Kavlekar is equally controversial in the state and has been tagged as the ‘Matka King’ as he is believed to be behind an illegal gambling empire that is spread throughout the Konkan region. In 2017, the Goa Police had confiscated illegal gambling coupons during a raid at his residence. The BJP itself had been accusing Kavlekar of indulging in land grab and illegally possessing properties in Kerala.
There is speculation now that Kavlekar will be sworn in as deputy chief minister in the new Cabinet. If this does go through, Goa will become the first state with three deputy CMs.
BJP sources, however, told ThePrint that the decision to induct the Congress MLAs is an attempt by the party to end its dependence on Vijay Sardesai’s Goa Forward Party, which has three legislators.
In the 40-member Goa assembly, the BJP had been running the government with only 17 MLAs of its own. With the induction of 10 of the 15 Congress MLAs, its strength has risen to 27. In this case, it will require no outside support and can easily complete its five-year tenure.
News media is in a crisis & only you can fix it
You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.
You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.
We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And we aren’t even three yet.
At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly and on time even in this difficult period. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is. Our stellar coronavirus coverage is a good example. You can check some of it here.
This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it. Because the advertising market is broken too.
If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous, and questioning journalism, please click on the link below. Your support will define our journalism, and ThePrint’s future. It will take just a few seconds of your time.