Goa assembly session may see parliament-like logjam

Panaji, July 26 (IANS) The 15-day monsoon session of the Goa legislative assembly that begins on Monday could well emulate the logjam-ridden monsoon session of parliament.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led coalition is expected to take aim at the opposition with the Louis Berger international bribery scandal in which two former ministers and an Independent legislator have come in the ambit of doubt.

On the other hand, the opposition and three Independents have bandied together demanding the resignation of Industries Minister Mahadev Naik over a cheating charge.

Independent legislator Vijai Sardessai told IANS that the Congress and his fellow Independent legislators were working on a strategy to not allow Naik to table an annual report of the Goa State Scheduled Castes (SC) and Other Backward Classes (OBC) Finance and Development Corporation by Mahadev Naik, under whose ministry the institution functions.

Naik has been accused of utilising a legislative privilege of a subsidised home loan and using it to purchase commercial property.

“The government has to drop the minister before the assembly session starts on Monday. We will not let him table the annual report because such a tainted minister is an insult to these communities,” Sardesai said.

Sardesai along with former chief minister Digambar Kamat and Industries Minister Churchill Alemao has been questioned by the ruling BJP and a section of the media for having allegedly sealed the Rs.19 crore consultancy deal with Louis Berger in 2010. All the three politicians have denied the allegations.

Top officials of Louis Berger have already pleaded guilty to offering bribes of $3.9 million to secure contracts in Asian countries such as India, Vietnam, Indonesia and Kuwait.

While the settlement announced by the US Justice Department did not identify the politicians and officials who were offered bribes, the documents revealed that $976,630 was paid in bribes during 2009-2010 to a Goa minister and other officials.

Louis Berger was part of a consortium that eventually won a contract to execute a multi-billion dollar water and sewerage project in Goa funded by the Japan International Co-Operation Agency (JICA).

Louis Berger in an official communication on Friday has maintained that the act of bribery was committed by rogue company officials, which had come to the fore during an internal enquiry conducted by the New Jersey-based consultancy firm.

While the Goa Police Crime branch has already registered a First Information Report in connection with the bribery case, the case has not yet been handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation, as promised by Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.

A BJP spokesperson, however, maintains that the opposition, especially the Congress party, have no right to accuse its ministers of corruption.

“The Congress scams are coming out now even when they are not in power. The Louis Berger case, in which a US court has already accepted that bribes were paid, is testament to that. Imagine what they had done when they were running the government,” BJP spokesperson Damu Naik said.

He demanded the immediate arrest and custodial probe of “anyone linked to the case”, upping the ante ahead of the legislative session.

Speaker Rajendra Arlekar 2,953 questions are expected to be answered by the treasury benches in the monsoon session.



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