Even as Atanasio (Babush) Monserrate joined the Vijai Sardesai promoted Goa Forward Party, after turning down a Congress proposal to contest for the party, the Goa Citizens Action Forum (GCAF) said that Babush was paid Rs 5 crore and promised that all his pending criminal cases would be ‘settled’ if he campaigned for Parrikar.
Since Babush could not directly join the BJP or directly support the BJP a compromise formula was worked out – Babush joins the Goa Forward Party and supports Parrikar from outside.
The GCAF has alleged that even BJP ex-mayor Ashok Naik who was in talks with the Congress to contest against Parrikar in Panaji on a Congress ticket was indirectly threatened by ‘common friends’ not to join the Congress.
Ashok Naik, a BJP worker for 27 years who also served as the BJP Panaji Mandal president for four terms, enjoys considerable support within the saffron cadre, corporation of the city of Panaji councillors and Catholic voters, says the Times of India.
Firoz Ahmed Khan, spokesperson for the GCAF said that Babush was in talks with the Congress only to ‘scare’ the BJP and force them into giving him a deal. “He was always after cash. He was not at all interested in elections. He (Babush) put up a facade to extort money from the BJP, by circulating news in the media that he will contest on a Congress ticket thus giving sleepless nights to Parrikar and the Goa BJP leadership. We have been saying for the last three months, that Babush must never be trusted. It is surprising how Parrikar and Vijai are now sleeping with this ‘wolf in a lamb’s clothing’ who will even sell his own family for money,” Firoz A Khan told IndiaScribes.com Chief Editor Flynn Remedios.
“Parrikar is using his clout and power as CM as well as the deep pockets of the BJP central treasury to ensure his win. This is not done. The people of Panaji must see through these tactics. The people of Panaji must not vote for such turncoats, wolves and snakes. If Parrikar is genuinely working for Panaji and is good for the people, then why does he resort to such ‘terror tactics’ like ‘buying’ candidates from other parties,” Khan asked?
According to a Times of India report, there was pressure on him (Ashok Naik) from “common friends” not to contest, sources said.
Ashok Naik also confirmed, when he told reporters in Panaji: “I consulted all of them (friends and workers) over two days. Some people told me that they wouldn’t like it if I joined the Congress. Some workers said independent, but as an independent candidate, I will not win. There was no option because I don’t want to contest elections to lose.”
Parrikar meanwhile, publicly praised former Panaji mayor and four-time BJP Mandal president Ashok Naik, who rejected a Congress ticket.”I think Ashok Naik has remained true to his roots and has kept his origins intact, Parrikar said.
He has recognised that he is part of BJP and thus he cannot be a Congress candidate. I am grateful to him,” Parrikar, a five-time MLA from Panaji, told media persons while addressing party workers.
Considered a political heavy weight from Tiswadi, Monserrate’s entry into Goa Forward has narrowed the hopes of the Congress party to topple the government and come to power, reports the Herald.
Welcoming Monserrate into the party, GFP President and TCP Minister Vijai Sardesai had said, “Monserrate joining Goa Forward is a major political development and gives a stability certificate to Manohar Parrikar led government in the State.”
He said that Parrikar can be declared as MLA from Panjim. “We will support Manohar Parrikar in Panjim,” he stated and added, “If any MLA resigns from the Assembly, Goa Forward will contest and this has been discussed with Manohar Parrikar.”
Former Goa Pradesh Congress Committee President, Luizinho Faleiro, said he was not at all surprised with what Babush did. “This type of behaviour is expected from him as Babush does things only to serve his interest,” he said.
National Secretary Girish Chodankar practically repeated the same words and said that Panjim Block Committee meetings were held earlier only because he did not trust Babush and wanted to build up the organisation irrespective of who the candidate was.
“It was a blunder on the part of some of our leaders to even go to Babush knowing very well how he had ditched us in 2007 when he withdrew as the Congress candidate at the assembly elections,” he said.
Meanwhile, defending his move, Monserrate said that the Congress is not serious. “I was in talks with several leaders of the Congress regarding the Panjim seat but they are not serious. There are two leaders in the State who run the Congress. Even the high command does not know what is happening in the State. These two leaders are running the party like a proprietorship firm.”
Asked regarding his entry into the Goa Legislative Assembly, Monserrate said, “We will not force anyone to resign but as Vijai has said, if anybody resigns from the Assembly, then the party will contest on that seat.”
Speculations are rife that Monserrate’s entry into Goa Forward will be followed by two Congress MLAs – Santa Cruz MLA Antonio Fernandes and St Andre MLA Francis Silveira – who were supported by Monserrate during the Assembly polls earlier this year.
with inputs from Times of India, the Herald and The NavHind Times