Conspiracy to malign party’s image in Goa: COngress leader (Lead)

October 17th, 2008 - 8:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyPanaji, Oct 17 (IANS) All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary B. Hariprasad, who was rushed to the state by the party high command after an intra-cabinet tussle between two ministers, Friday claimed there was a political conspiracy to malign the image of the Congress in Goa. Hariprasad, in-charge of Goa, accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of trying to destabilise the Congress-led coalition. Hinting that the opposition was trying to malign the image of Goa, he said: “Goa doesn’t deserve this kind of treatment.”

Home Minister Ravi Naik and Education Minister Atanasio Monserrate are locked in a fierce tussle.

The bad blood started after the police, following a 12-day delay, registered a complaint from a German woman, who claimed that Monseratte’s son Rohit had raped her 14-year-old daughter. The police had also booked Atanasio Monseratte for abetting the crime.

While Monserrate had been baying for Naik’s blood, a group of legislators backing Monseratte had been seeking a change in the leadership.

Hariprasad met Congress party lawmakers and ministers along with Monserrate, who represents United Goans Democratic Party (UGDP), one of the four parties in the ruling alliance, at a five star resort Thursday to discuss the issue.

Hariprasad and Chief Minister Digambar Kamat met Naik Friday afternoon. Naik was conspicuous by his absence from Thursday night’s meeting.

Hariprasad told mediapersons that some people had been out to defame the Congress at the cost of Goa.

“While settling political scores, you must always think about your state,” Hariprasad said as he emerged from the meeting held at the chief minister’s official residence at Altinho here.

“I am talking of general happenings that are witnessed in the state over the last few months,” he sought to clarify when asked whether he was referring to the incidents which had transpired after Monserrate’s son was charged with rape.

Divisions are apparent in the coalition led by the Congress and including the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the United Goans Democratic Party (UGDP) and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP).

Earlier Thursday, Public Works Department Minister Churchill Alemao had said categorically: “There is a split in the cabinet.”

The clash between the Congress minister and the UGDP minister has precipitated a crisis in the Goa government. A group of more than a dozen legislators has asked the Congress high command for a change in leadership.

Trying to cool down tensions, Hariprasad said there was no tussle between Naik and Monseratte.

“The law must take its own course,” he replied, when asked about the rape complaint against Monseratte’s son.

In the 39-member assembly, the Congress has 17 legislators, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has 14, NCP three, UGDP one, MGP two and there are two independents.

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