Khalap a Congman sitting in UF Govt. : Churchill

| 06 July 1996 23:57 IST

United Goans Democratic Party (UGDP) leader Churchill Alemao, the South Goa MP, has alleged that Union Minister of State for Law Adv Ramakant Khalap is de facto a Congressman sitting in the United Front government led by H D Deve Gowda.

Alemao, who was deprived of a cabinet berth at last minute in the second phase of expansion, also alleged that he was replaced with Khalap solely due to the efforts made by Congress leader Sharad Pawar and opposition to his induction by the state-level Congress leaders.

Goa, which has only two seats in the Lok Sabha, had elected MPs of two regional parties rejecting the Congress, presently ruling the state. Both the MPs - UGDP's Alemao and Adv Khalap of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) - had supported the United Front coalition and were trying for a cabinet berth.

Alemao admits that he had also met Pawar the previsious day of the second cabinet expansion where he was asked about his criminal background. Alemao was detained under COFEPOSA for his smuggling activities and still figures in the black list of the union home ministry. "But all the cases filed against me have been withdrawn, proving me innocent. I challenge Pawar to prove that I am a smuggler", he backlashes.

Addressing a press conference today morning after returning from the national capital, Alemao also alleged that Pawar himself was facing several corruption charges against him, including the ones during the time he was a defence minister. "What right he has to call me criminal when I have no single case pending against me", he asked.

According to Alemao, he deserved berth in the UF government as he is the sole Goan MP who spoke against BJP government's motion of confidence and in support of Gowda's motion. On the contrary, he recalled, the union law minister had kept mum on both the occasions as he was supported by communal organisations like BJP and Shiv Sena to get elected. "I am happy that Khalap is now with the secular forces", he said sarcastically.

He also claims that all the local Congress leaders, including chief minister Pratapsing Rane, Deputy CM Dr Wilfred de Souza and Goa PCC chief Nirmala Sawant, had opposed his induction because they are scared of his (Alemao's) tremendous mass base. "Khalap however is their man and would be soon joining the Congress", he predicted.

Though he claims to be cool about his non-induction, Alemao still feels that the minority community (Catholics) along the entire west coast should represent in the government. Khalap is inducted to represent Maharashtra and not Goa, he claims, as Maharashtra has no JD MP while the union law minister is identified as a Marathi man rather than Konkani. "But I will continue supporting the UF government without any reservations against the PM", he states.

Forgetting the election promise to unite both the UGDP and the MGP to emerge as a strong regional force in the state, Alemao has now decided to contest coming Assembly polls alone to defeat both the Congress and the MGP. He had supported the union law minister by not fielding his party candidate in the LS poll.

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