Ex-CM Digambar Kamat is embroiled in corruption cases
In Goa, the Congress is in a bit of a pickle. After the polls, they had banked entirely on former chief minister Digambar Kamat to take on Manohar Parrikar 2.0. But with the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) moving against Kamat, the party is in a bind. On April 24, the ACB summoned Kamat in connection with its investigation into the Rs 35,000 crore mining scam that allegedly took place during his tenure. Earlier, on March 30, the ED had served notices to Kamat and former PWD minister Churchill Alemao (now with the NCP) in the ‘Louis Berger case’, a bribery scandal in which the duo allegedly received Rs 4 crore from a US-based firm for awarding a water supply contract in 2010.
The ED notice sought to attach Kamat’s properties, including a 4,047 sq. m. plot in his hometown Margao, a residential bungalow in Taleigao near Panaji and fixed deposits of some Rs 41 lakh. The assets were purportedly acquired around the same time the Berger contract was awarded. The ED’s investigations claim that the bribe was transferred via 14 shell companies though the ownership of these companies is yet to be established. The attaching
GOA CONGRESSMEN BELIEVE THE ED’s ACTION AGAINST KAMAT IS A BJP BID TO PUSH THEM INTO A CORNER
of properties is expected to begin within 180 days of the notice.
Kamat, who had claimed that his poll victory from Margao was a rebuttal of the allegations against him, is clearly spooked. “I haven’t done anything wrong,” he told reporters in Panaji recently.
Congress workers in Goa believe the ED’s action against Kamat is designed to push them into a corner. Reeling from its failure to form the government (in spite of being the single largest party), the defection of up and coming MLA Vishwajeet Rane (son of exCongress chief minister Pratapsinh Rane) and his move to join the Parrikar government has stumped party workers. The Congress has already relieved senior leader Digvijaya Singh, who was party incharge in Goa. However, its choice of Maharashtra MLA Amit Deshmukh as new state joint incharge has surprised many. Deshmukh’s elevation came less than a week after he led the party to a rout in the municipal corporation elections in hometown Latur, which the Congress had lorded over for 60 years. His entry has given party workers another reason to sulk.
Babu Kavlekar, a state Congress veteran, insists the party is with Kamat. But will other seniors including Pratapsinh Rane, Ravi Naik and Luzinho Faleiro also back him? There’s growing suspense on that score and the BJP, having scented blood, is out to nail Kamat.
MAN DOWN Ex-CM Kamat leaving the SIT office on April 18