Churchill quits Congress, to contest Lok Sabha polls
PANAJI: In what may be a setback for the Congress in South Goa, former PWD minister and Navelim MLA Churchill Alemao on Saturday resigned from the party’s primary membership and announced his candidature as an independent for the Parliamentary seat.
Alemao, considered a ‘strongman of Salcete’, even though he lost the 2012 assembly polls, is expected to dent the Congress’s electoral equations in the taluka that is considered the party’s bastion. The incumbent MP is Congressman Francisco Sardinha, while Congress’s candidate for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls is Curtorim MLA Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco.
Alemao, a legislator for several years, who has even been chief minister, albeit for a very short period, arrived around 11am at Congress House, Panaji, supporters in tow, to hand over his resignation to Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) president John Fernandes.
The move ends a week of suspense on whether Alemao would actually contest the LS polls, a move he had announced following the Congress ticket being denied to his daughter, Youth Congress president Valanka Alemao. On Thursday, he had issued his first 24-hour ultimatum to the party high command, extending it by another 24 hours. It is learnt that many party-men tried to convince the senior Congressman not to quit the party.
“I am contesting the Parliamentary elections as the people’s independent candidate and to stop the BJP candidate from winning unopposed,” said Alemao, adding that the results would show him as the winner, the BJP candidate in second place, and the Congress candidate at third spot.
His resignation letter states that he has resigned as the party has failed to choose a mature and senior politician as its candidate. He questioned the criteria adopted by the party in selecting Lourenco as its candidate. “I want a secular government for my state and my nation,” reads the last line in the letter.
Speaking to mediapersons, Alemao said the Congress has done him injustice while selecting the South Goa candidate. He said his target was to get the ticket for his daughter as the Congress had decided to give tickets to young people.
Reacting to the Congress’s resolution to ban the re-entry of Congressmen who have left the party during elections, Alemao said the Congress is an ocean and there is no problem leaving or rejoining it.
On the allegation of the GPCC chief that chief minister Manohar Parrikar had paid Alemao Rs50crore to contest the polls, Alemao said, “If Congress gives me a ticket today, I will damage BJP badly.” He said the ticket being given to Lourenco was a conspiracy by some people to finish the Congress in Goa.
Asked if he had been pressurized by Parrikar to contest the polls as there are many cases against him at the crime branch, Alemao said, “Churchill is not a scamster. If Parrikar has guts he should put me behind bars. I am not afraid of blackmail.”