Cong 'rewards' 14 defectors

SANDESH PRABHUDESAI, PANAJI | 11 May 2002 22:36 IST

After lots of halabaloo on cleansing the Indian polity, the Congress today announced the list of candidates for Goa elections, consisting of the same habitual and professional defectors, including three chargesheeted scam masters, to come to power.

The Congress however has left four seats unannounced - Saligao, Siolim, Tivim and Mapusa - as it intends to leave it to the Nationalist Congress Party if the ongoing alliance talks succeed.

Compared to only four former Congress legislators who did not defect since the toppling game began in Goa in 1990, at least 14 defectors and one who had won independent after rebellion in the last elections have been awarded tickets, considering their 'winnability' factor.

It consists altogether five former chief ministers, three former deputy chief ministers and 12 former ministers, most of who had come to power by defecting from the Congress and joining hands with the opposition.

Topping the list is Ravi Naik, who was the deputy chief minister in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party till he resigned Friday morning. Along with him are four more who left the BJP and staged homecoming, including former union law minister Ramakant Khalap.

Ex-BJP ministers Sanjay Bandekar, who had also quit the Congress in October 2000 to join the saffron brigade, have been once again embraced by the party, along with Bandu Desai, who had left the Congress much earlier and had then also joined the BJP.

The only defector who did not get ticket is Jose Philip D'Souza, the first one to quit the BJP government soon after dissolution of the House on 27 February.

Three scam masters - Dayanand Narvekar chargesheeted in the bogus cricket ticket scam, Somnath Zuwarkar in the co-operative bank scam and Mauvin Godinho in the power rebate scam - have also been considered 'fit' to contest the state Assembly elections.

Besides these three, five more had also split to topple the then ruling Congress within five months in November 1999 but were later given entry back to the party fold to strengthen the Congress.

Including Francisco Sardinha, their leader and ex-chief minister for 11 months, others are Subhash Shirodkar, Alexio Sequeira, Victoria Fernandes and Francis Silveira. All of them had split to become ministers in a coalition government formed with the BJP.

Among the former Congress legislators, only four had not defected during the decade-long game of musical chairs. Speaker Pratapsing Rane, PCC president Nirmala Sawant, ex-opposition leader Luizinho Faleiro and party spokesman Jitendra Deshprabhu have been thus retained.

The party however has also awarded tickets to old defectors Churchill Alemao and Luis Alex Cardoz as well as Isidore Fernandes, who was elected independent candidate last time after he was denied ticket by the Congress.

Except Harish Zantye, who was the minister in late '80s and Joaquim Alemao, the ex-minister in '94 Assembly, three more defeated candidates are chosen once again. The rest are the new faces, but not in the Congress stronghold areas.


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