PANAJI: Four political families in Goa are seeking as many as 10 assembly tickets from the Congress for the March 3 polls, prompting rivals to hurl accusations of nepotism inspired by the party's national leadership. The party's Goa unit president Subhash Shirodkar refused to take a call on the 'one family one ticket' philosophy, which was the bedrock of its ticket-giving policy in the 2007 assembly elections.
Shirodkar said the four families, each of them led by powerful patriarchs, had laid claim to 10 tickets in constituencies throughout Goa. "The Alemaos have applied for four tickets, Naik has applied in two - Ritesh and himself, Monserrate two and Rane two," Shirodkar said. The Alemao family, led by powerful cabinet ministers Joaquim and Churchill, has filled forms for the Cuncolim and Navelim constituencies in south Goa. Joaquim's son Yuri has now filed for a ticket from the mining-hit Sanguem constituency, while Churchill's lawyer daughter Valanka has applied for a ticket from Benaulim, also in south Goa.
Home Minister Ravi Naik has applied for a ticket from his home constituency of Ponda, while his son Ritesh has applied from Marcaim. A chief minister for nearly two decades, Pratapsing Rane has sought a ticket from his traditional stronghold of Poriem while his son Vishwajeet Rane has sought a ticket from the adjoining seat of Valpoi, both in north Goa.
Lastly, Education Minister Atanasio Monserrate and his wife Jennifer are seeking tickets from the St Cruz and Taleigao constituencies, also in the north Goa. The 10 seats applied for by the Congress leaders and their kin form 25 percent of the strength of the 40-member strong assembly. "The Congress screening committee and the central election committee will be deciding on the issues of 'family quota', criminal background, winnability and all that. The state Congress has nothing to do with this," Shirodkar said.
Shirodkar was unable to say why the party had watered down its 'one family one ticket' stand taken by the party, when it contested the elections in the 2007 assembly polls. "The screening committee is now trying to screen the applications for criminal background of the applicant and all that. The first list will come out by Jan 24 or 25," he said. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the main opposition party in Goa, has said the Congress party's obsession with nepotism and family tickets was a 'public secret'. "The whole country knows how the party works. The Congress is all about family raaj. And now the family raaj trend is coming down from Delhi to Goa," BJP spokesperson Govind Parvatkar said.