On a day Atanasio Monserratte crossed over to the Goa Forward Party (GFP), an ally of the ruling BJP in Goa, a Congress leader claimed the former party minister with the help of GFP chief Vijai Sardesai had planned to destabilise the Manohar Parrikar government when the chief minister was abroad and had sought the Congress’ help. The Congress also claimed Sardesai, who holds portfolios of Agriculture and Town and Country Planning, wanted to become chief minister with the help of Monserratte. However, Sardesai has rubbished the allegations against him.
“Atanasio Monserratte had told us that he and Vijai Sardesai wanted to topple the government when Parrikar was on his tour of the US recently. “However, we refused because Sardesai wanted to become chief minister and we wanted someone of integrity to head the state government,” AICC Secretary A Chellakumar told reporters. The senior Congress leader was reacting to Monserratte, whose name was reportedly in reckoning as a Congress nominee to contest the Panaji bypoll from where Parrikar is seeking an entry into the Assembly, joining the GFP today.
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“Sardesai was in touch with the Congress as he wanted to pull down the government. He had even suggested a candidate to contest the just-held Rajya Sabha election on the Congress ticket (against the BJP’s Vinay Tendulkar who eventually won). “We refused the candidate suggested by Sardesai because he was a land grabber and the Congress will never allow Goa to be sold,” Chellakumar said. Playing down the reports that Monserratte’s name was being considered for the bypoll by the Congress, he said Monserratte was not the only option for the party.
“There are several other aspirants and we have enough leaders to contest against Parrikar,” he added. Dismissing the Congress’ claim, Sardesai said, “When Parrikar was abroad (earlier this month), I was also out of the country, so where is the question of lobbying to topple the government?” He said Chellakumar was making the statement against him out of frustration. Sardesai said he was not in touch with any Congress leader since he lent support to the Parrikar-led government. Besides three MLAs of the GFP, the Parrikar government is also supported by three MLAs of the Maharashtravadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and three Independents.