Chavan had to go, how can Pacheco come, ask Goa Congress dissidents

Thursday, December 23, 2010

PANAJI - A group of dissident Congress legislators has asked party president Sonia Gandhi to apply the same principles while inducting ministers in Goa as was done in Maharashtra where Ashok Chavan was dropped from the chief minister’s post after corruption allegations.

“The Congress dropped (former) Maharashtra chief minister (Ashok) Chavan when his name was linked to the Adarsh scam. They should apply the same principles in Goa,” Public Works Department (PWD) Minister Churchill Alemao told IANS.

Alemao leads a group of 10 dissident legislators, including four ministers, who have threatened to topple the Congress-led coalition government in Goa if the induction of controversial Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) minister Francisco alias Mickky Pacheco — Alemao’s sworn political rival — into the cabinet is approved by the Congress national leadership.

“The Congress has principles. If they can drop a chief minister in Maharashtra after allegations of corruption, how can they allow a tainted minister in the Goa cabinet,” Alemao said, referring to the Adarsh Housing Society scam in Mumbai.

Apartments meant for Kargil war veterans and war widows were allotted to bureaucrats, politicians and army personnel who had nothing to do with the war.

The Congress had later sacked Chavan after fingers were pointed at him for changing the society’s by-laws to include civilians in the list of allottees, some of them being his own relatives.

Pacheco, Alemao’s sworn political enemy, has a string of criminal cases against him - ranging from culpable homicide, bigamy, assault and extortion.

He is also suspected of illegal trafficking and money laundering by the US government’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, which has formally asked the central government to probe him.

“The Congress should live up to its principles. They should not allow tainted ministers to enter cabinet. The high command should behave the way it did in Maharashtra. By the same principle, we will not allow Mickky in the cabinet,” Alemao said.

The current political crisis was precipitated after the NCP national leadership earlier this week directed its two ministers, Jose Phillip D’Souza and Nilkanth Halarnkar, to resign as ministers and re-induct Pacheco as a minister in the cabinet in turn.

The 40-member legislative assembly has 20 legislators from the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (14), NCP (3), Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (2) and one independent.

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