The Goa unit of the Congress has alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led coalition government is targeting its legislators “one by one” in order to pressurise them into joining the ruling fold.
“It is very clear that one by one, our MLAs are being targeted. This is a pressure tactic by the BJP, which wants to poach on some of our MLAs, by arm-twisting them. But what they want will not happen,” state Congress President Shantaram Naik told a press conference at the party’s headquarters in Panaji.
Naik’s comments came even as Leader of Opposition and Congress MLA Chandrakant Kavlekar, who is being probed in connection with an illegal gambling racket as well as for possession of disproportionate assets, filed for anticipatory bail at a court in Margao in South Goa, around 35 km from Panaji.
Kavlekar has already been raided five times in connection with the purchase of agricultural land in Kerala worth Rs 4.78 crore, which the Goa Police’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has claimed was purchased from the ill-gotten wealth, disproportionate to the Congress leader’s income.
However, Kavlekar has rejected the ACB charge, claiming that his business dealings were “above-board”.
The disproportionate assets probe started in 2013, but a FIR was filed only last week.
Kavlekar last week was also summoned by the Crime Branch after thousands of slips of illegal gambling (matka) receipts were found at his residence.
Earlier this month, Imran Khan, a close aide of former Chief Minister and Congress MLA Digambar Kamat, was also booked by the Goa Police Special Investigation Team, in connection with estimated Rs 35,000-crore illegal mining scam.
Naik has called the police action “politically motivated”.
“Why is only Kavlekar being targeted? Why are raids not being conducted on BJP leaders who are known to be matka dealers,” Naik asked, adding that matka operators were also campaigning for the BJP in the recently concluded by-elections.
Matka is an illegal form of gambling that has gained immense popularity in Mumbai and Konkan region since the 1970s. It functions six days a week, virtually like a lottery, where lucky numbers are generated thrice every day.