Churchill set to rejoin Congress

| 17 June 1998 23:52 IST

Former MP Churchill Alemao, the controversial strongman and alleged smuggler from Goa, is all set to rejoin the ruling Congress party after over nine years, leaving his United Goans Democratic Party.

After staging a coup in '89 to dislodge the erstwhile Pratapsisng Rane government and form a short-lived coalition with the opposition, he was never readmitted in the party fold, unlike his other colleagues. He had then formed the UGDP as a strong anti-Congress platform.

"Sonia Gandhi is the right leader to lead the Congress", says Alemao to justify his comeback. He actually appears to be frustrated since his miserable defeat in the last Lok Sabha polls and has become financially bankrupt.

On the part of the Congress, it however appears to be a desperate attempt to woo the minorities who have shifted their allegiance. But political experts still doubt whether this move could subside the strong anti-Congress wave spread throughout the tourist state.

His readmission however would not be a smooth affair though Ms Gandhi has given him a green signal. A strong group within the PCC, led by its president Shantaram Naik, along with both the MPs - Ravi Naik and Francisco Sardinha as well as state minister Luizinho Faleiro are vehemently opposing it, on the grounds of his smuggler image and underworld connections.

Surprisingly, Rane seems to have forgotten these grounds today with which he had always opposed Alemao's comeback in the past. Despite fully knowing that deputy chief minister Wilfred de Souza, his opponent and Alemao's political godfather, is the main key player in the game, he has wholeheartedly supported the move, fearing defeat in the forthcoming elections.

Alemao seems confident that most of his conditions would be met by the high command, including PCC presidentship for him, ministerial berths for both the UGDP MLAs including his brother, four chairmanships of corporations and 12 out of total 40 Assembly seats for his party colleagues.

But his main handicap seems to be his inability to get the whole party along with him. Over 80 per cent of his office bearers have now publicly declared a war against Alemao's move. "We will be much stronger once he leaves", states Shrirang Narvekar, the UGDP president.

After taking over the party reins prior to '94 Assembly polls, he could win only three Assembly seats in Catholic-dominated Salcete taluka. But the UGDP was established when Alemao defeated five-time Congress MP and former minister Eduardo Faleiro in '96 Lok Sabha polls.

Though Alemao was pushed to third position in the last Lok Sabha polls, only the UGDP and the BJP could establish in both the Parliamentary constituencies despite getting defeated. The Congress, on the other hand, had actually lost grounds though it won both the seats.

Attempts were on to woo Alemao back to the party fold since then, fearing end of the Congress rule in Goa after next Assembly polls, since the ruling party had already lost 21 out of 40 seats to the UGDP and the BJP in the Parliamentary polls.

Drop a comment

Enter The Code Displayed hereRefresh Image