The week saw Congress spokesperson Sudip Tamhankar take the battle to Pratapsing Rane and especially Digambar Kamat, two former chief ministers from his own party, who he said should be arrested for facilitating illegal mining operations of a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader.
"Kamat's arrest is most important. He was chief minister and minister for mines when most of the illegalities were happening," Tamhankar told reporters, a day after the state anti-corruption department registered an FIR based on a complaint filed by him in 2011.
The FIR names Digambar Kamat, Pratapsing Rane, Prafulla Hede, a senior state NCP leader and key forest and mines department officials among others for allowing Hede to conduct mining illegally at the Godoavadae Javaichem Upor and Nagonim Buroda concession, located in close proximity of the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary, nearly 70 km southeast of Panaji. Hede is a key aide of NCP chief and Agiculture Minister Sharad Pawar.
A formally-appointed Congress spokesperson demanding criminal action against two top leaders of his own party has created a quirky situation for the party.
Congress secretary in-charge of Goa A. Chella Kumar, who rushed to the state to sort out the intra-party crisis, claims that the filing of the FIR stemmed from a political reason rather than a criminal one.
"It is the politics of vengeance," Chella Kumar said when asked to comment on two former Congress chief ministers booked in an illegal mining case.
Tamhankar, whose FIR has rattled the wits of his own partymen, however does not toe Chella Kumar's line.
"Especially Kamat, who was mining minister for over a decade, has to be put in jail and questioned if the investigating agencies want to unearth Goa's illegal mining scandal," Tamhankar contended.
Tamhankar also accused the police of trying to "save" current Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who was also named in the complaint.
"I had named him in the complaint, but the ACB dropped his name from the FIR. The officials are under pressure," he said.
Kamat however claims that he was not sure about what charges had been framed against him in the FIR.
"I have only read media reports. I have not seen the FIR copy. When I know what charges have been leveled against me, I will take the required legal action," the former chief minister said.
A Congress legislator told IANS on condition of anonymity that the FIRs against leaders of opposition parties could only be an eyewash, to be used to convince the Supreme Court that action is being taken with relation to illegal mining cases.
"For more than one year, the Parrikar administration has done nothing against guilty politicians and mining companies involved in the scam. This inaction is also exposed in course of the Supreme Court hearings," the Congressman said.
The Supreme Court is hearing a case related to the illegal mining scandal, which was valued by the government- constituted Justice M.B. Shah Commission to be of Rs.35,000 crore.
The Court has imposed a ban on all mining activity in the state till it decides the case.
Whichever way the case goes, one thing is for sure: It's never going to be the same again for the Congress in Goa.
(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at email@example.com)
--IANS (Posted on 11-10-2013)