Ka­mat Ka­put

Ex-CM Digam­bar Ka­mat is em­broiled in cor­rup­tion cases

India Today - - STATES -

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


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

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