Tainted Goa legislator joins Congress (Lead)June 21st, 2010 - 7:27 pm ICT by IANS
Panaji, June 21 (IANS) The Goa Congress Monday admitted into its fold Education Minister Atanasio Monserrate, accused of beating up Youth Congress workers staging a rally here in support of an IT project, endorsed by party president Sonia Gandhi in the state, a few years ago.
Addressing a press conference at the party head quarters in Panaji, Chief Minister Digambar Kamat said the party welcomed Monserrate, an unattached legislator from the United Goans Democratic Party (UGDP) into the party fold “unconditionally”.
“Monserrate has entered the Congress without any conditions. There is no question of a portfolio reshuffle,” Kamat told reporters.
“The decision to join the Congress was taken a long time back. I have just joined the party by filling the membership papers,” Monserrate told reporters after filling up the membership papers Monday evening.
Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) president Subhash Shirodkar said the decision to admit Monserrate into the party was taken by Gandhi and the Congress high command.
When asked if Monserrate’s criminal background was given a thought before admitting him into the party, Shirodkar said: “The Congress high command has taken stock of the criminal background of Monserrate. They have taken the final decision, not us.”
Monserrate has a string of criminal cases against him, which include extortion and assault.
In 2008, Monserrate along with his henchmen had been accused of mercilessly assaulting Youth Congress workers in his Taleigao constituency, while they were peacefully demanding the setting up of the Rajiv Gandhi Information Technology (IT) habitat in Dona Paula, on the outskirts of the capital.
The IT project, which was personally endorsed by Gandhi, was being opposed by Monserrate, in whose constituency the project was envisaged.
In the same year, the education minister had also led a mob and attacked the Panaji police station in which several policemen were injured and women police constables were molested. The incident is currently being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Monserrate, who has already been chargesheeted in another case for extortion which was filed by a local businessman, has also been accused of forging his education certificate to show that he had completed his matriculation, when in fact the minister had quit school while studying in class 8.
The entry of Monserrate into the Congress takes the party’s tally in the 40 member legislative assembly to 19. The Congress is currently heading a coalition government partnered by the Nationalist Congress Party, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and one independent legislator.
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Tags: chief minister, congress committee, congress workers, criminal background, dona paula, education minister, extortion, goa congress, goans, gpcc, head quarters, henchmen, legislator, party president, rajiv gandhi, reshuffle, shirodkar, sonia gandhi, subhash, youth congress