This GoaChronicle.com expose is an interview with a senior Congress leader of the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) who has been with the party for over 35 year and held different positions in the party, he tells us about the corruption of the president of the party and the current chief minister, how appointed Desk In-Charge of Goa are bought in by ministers to influence decisions and how Congress has become a den of corrupt politicians…
GoaChronicle.com(GC): On the onset our interview let me ask you why have you chosen to voice your concern to the media on the Congress party and why do you want to be anonymous about it?
Congress Leader(CL): I have made numerous representations to the party high command even sent letters to the offices of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi on issues of corruptions. But no action has ever been initiated to correct the corruption based issues plaguing Goa. In fact complaint letter copies which are suppose to reach the offices of the highest in the chain of command somehow find their way to the offices of the people we have complained about. I can narrate one such incident when we sent a letter with regards to the mismanagement of the Congress party affairs and corruption of the current president of GPCC and copy of that complaint letter was in the hands of the president of GPCC even though it was marked ‘Confidential’ and sent to All India Congress Committee President Sonia Gandhi. Therefore, I feel it is important to voice my concern to the media, so that the party high command can listen to the truth. I prefer to be anonymous at this point of time to not become a part of any witch-hunt of the corrupt politicians in the state and at national level who have been involved in the rampant destruction of Goa in different forms.
GC: You have been with the Congress party for over 35 years and have worked at grass-root levels including senior positions in the party. How is the party different today from what it used to be?
CL: Earlier people in the party were concerned about the people, the state and the nation. They were honest, sincere and committed to the policies and programmes of the party. Although there has been no change to the policies or programmes of the party, now it is managed by different people both at state and central level who are;
- Not concerned about the interest of the people and society
- Not honest and sincere
- And work to ensure that their interests are fulfilled rather than the interest of people, state or nation.
In fact if you were to ask most of the elected representatives of the Congress party of the policies and programmes of the party many would not be aware of it.
GC: In that case is not the Congress high command at fault for appointing such leaders into the party and also making them elected representatives?
CL: In real politics and matters of election the guiding policies of the party are set aside or deliberately overlooked. The guiding factor becomes the win ability of the candidate selected. Knowingly or unknowingly factors such as criminal background, education background and anti-social background are overlooked. And that is a concern that is overlooked at a national level. So when the issue was raised with the high command during the last election of certain candidates and their criminal background (especially those with cases pending against them in different courts of law) the Desk In-Charge of Goa stated that we need not worry about such issues for a small state like Goa, because at parliament level we have got criminals sitting in the chair. Also these are mere cases not convictions.
GC: But is not the responsibility of the GPCC president to maintain the image of the party by ensuring members or elected representatives of the party are not of a questionable nature?
CL: Our current GPCC president Subash Shirodkar is as entrenched in corruption as most of the other ministers and MLAs of the party. The ministers and MLAs do not function according to the dictates of the president of the GPCC; he in turn functions under the demands of the key ministers like the Chief Minister and PWD Minister Churchill Alemao. In fact, if GoaChronicle.com investigates deeper into the mining scam and the PWD scam, you will find that Subash Shirodkar or people closer to him have been biggest benefactors of these scams, because of his closeness to both the ministers. With regards to the PWD contracts Subash Shirodkar is a dominant partner in several companies that get the benefits of the contracts. His close friend and ally Praveen Kuncolienkar who has never been a part of the Congress party has joined the party and has been made general secretary. This particular contractor has now become Class One contractor for PWD works, when a couple of years he was just a start-up contractor. The cartel of ministers run by Digambar Kamat and Churchill Alemao has ensured that Shirodkar continues to remain as president because it allows them to run the party as per their dictates. Have you seen the AICC President run to any minister’s house at ring of a phone call, you will find Shirodkar running to placate most ministers especially the Alemaos for any of the demands.
GC: Digambar Kamat as Chief Minister has failed the people of Goa?
CL: Digambar Kamat has not only failed the people of Goa, but he has taken the people of Goa and the people at the high command for a ride. There is no doubt of his involvement in the illegal mining scam. In fact recently when he did his presentation of the issue of mining and was canvassing for GPCC members to support him, he did not even receive a single clap for his presentation, normally his rhetoric are most appreciated but the members of GPCC have now seen through the lies of this chief minister and whether or not the high command takes an action against him, I am confident that the people of Goa will. Let me narrate an incident that happen recently when I went to request him for some work to be done for some of our Goans who had a certain problem, at that point of time, a non-Goan walked into the office and mentioned the issue of not being on the electoral rolls. He quickly called his PA and asked to him to call another person by the name of Arondekar from what I could hear of his conversation and told him to ensure that the non-Goans name be enlisted in the electoral rolls because he had a light bill, electricity bill and water bill. The PA even told Kamat that this gentleman and his friends have been asked to get the certificates of domicile from their previous origin of domicile, but the CM said nothing doing, Arondekar can get it done with the light and electricity bills. So you see even in small matters such as these he bends the rules, then the gamut of his involvement in illegal mining and other huge corruption issues can only be expected. In fact if GoaChronicle.com investigates into the usage of the money sanctioned by the Centre of Rs 200 crore for the Golden Jubilee Celebrations, you will a major scam in there as well.
GC: Coming to the role of the high command, there has been many allegations in political circles of the Desk In-Charge and their closeness to ministers and the monetary arrangements they get. Is that true or a myth?
CL: There is no smoke without fire. It is true. Recently some media broke out involvement of Margaret Alva and her sons in the Goa Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) and a particular parcel of land which was fraudulently assigned to them and kept under wraps for a couple of years. That is not the only one, even a plot in the Shiroda Industrial area has been allotted to her and her sons. There is also a plot in the controversial Aldeia de Goa property which is on her sons’ name. Similarly, Hariprasad too stopped frequenting Goa when he was financially taken care off; considering as Desk In-Charge it was his duty to manage the party affairs of the state, he would rarely visit. His proximity to certain politicians and ministers in the Congress party is known and he has been on the receiving end of their favors, this was brought to the notice of the high command which led to a change in the leadership. But new Desk In-Charge Jagmeet Singh Brar, whom I considered to be an upright man as per my feedback both from Delhi and my interactions with him here in Goa, has also turned out to be disastrous. Let me explain what I mean by saying that about Brar. So far 20 names have been selected to be given the Congress ticket for the forthcoming elections, however in the Congress party there is process of selection wherein a meeting is conducted and different names have been discussed by the election committee. So far not a single meeting has been conducted, otherwise I would have been a part of it because of my official designation, and so what is the basis of Brar’s selection of the 20 candidates. More so the Congress secretary Sudhakar Reddy main role has been as a fixer and money collector even in his Youth Congress days. So I am certain that these seats are being allotted to highest bidders based on the monetary compensation that candidates are willing to pay for it. In fact, I have sent a letter to the AICC President informing and cautioning them about the workings of Brar and Reddy on this regard.
GC: Is not true that most of the corrupt politicians you are talking about including the Desk In-Charge have the patronage in the high command of the AICC political secretary Ahmed Patel?
CL: It is true. The biggest benefactor of the blessings of Ahmed Patel has been Digambar Kamat. Whenever, attempts have been made to topple Kamat’s government from political factions within the Congress party in Goa, it has been Ahmed Patel who has stepped in and safe the interest of Kamat. That Ahmed Patel is the main political fixer of the Congress party is known to all concerned inside and outside the party; he and his friends have several interests in Goa in real estate and casinos; and Kamat ensures that such concerns are taking care off at state-level.
GC: I am curious to ask you this, during the last selection of the Chief Minister of the party, why did the Congress select a former BJP minister instead one of the Congress members?
CL: Ravi Naik was the front runner to be selected as chief minister of Goa, but some days prior to that the mining lobby had made some serious contributions and lobbied with the high command for the appointment of Digambar Kamat as the CM of Goa. The entire episode by the party created at Cidade de Goa on the eve of the selection of the chief minister was a drama; it was foregone conclusion two days prior to that evening that Digambar Kamat was going to be appointed as the chief minister because the mining lobby lobbied hard for it. I cannot say whether there were any considerations paid to the high command on it, because I never saw it, but that possibility cannot be ruled out.
GC: What do feel will be the position of the Congress government in the coming elections, will they win or lose?
CL: There is wave of anti-corruption movement. Even at the Centre the party has been plagued with serious corruption allegations, to which some action has been initiated. If the Congress party does not initiate any corrective action against the rampant corruption in Goa in particular the illegal mining issue, the opposition will use that to their advantage and the people who are currently under the fervor of the anti-corruption movement might just look to BJP or another alternative party. But I am told by senior Congress leaders like Oscar Fernandes that there will be a corrective action and at least three ministers directly involved in the illegal mining will be asked to step-down, the Shah Commission report is what the high command is waiting for to take some actions. But Brar statement criticizing the Shah Commission report on leaks to media has not been taken well by the high command, since it is the Congress government at the Centre that has initiated the investigations into illegal mining across the country. There is news that Digambar Kamat and other ministers are trying to delay the revelations of the details of the Shah Commission report, but how far they can be successful on that is anybody’s guess. But the Congress party will take serious action, I am told.
GC: Why have you not left the party in such a situation of rampant corruption?
CL: I am loyal to Congress party because I have come up from the grass-root level and worked my way up. I am not forgetting the tenets of our policies. We have become unfortunately entrenched in some serious corruption based issues because of individuals within the party and certain leaders in decision making roles; but the Congress party secular front has not changed neither has its policies. I hope that what we stand for on paper comes back to mind of the people of this country and state rather than the image beating were a getting now on account of some spoilt criminal elements. I personally wish this time both at the Centre and the state the party loses so that they will release their folly, if they do not work towards changing the corrupt politicians. I will not leave the Congress party but try to work my best to correct it.