MUMBAI: A day before they were likely to oppose former Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamat’s plea for anticipatory bail, police on Thursday arrested an influential politician, Churchill Alemao, in the sensational Louis Berger bribery case.
The police reached Alemao’s house at Agassaim village in south Goa at midnight when he had retired for the day.
They took him in custody, quizzed him throughout the night and arrested him later. He was produced in the Panaji District and Sessions Court, which remanded him in police custody till Monday.
While police maintained that they had clinching evidence against Alemao, he alleged that the arrest was “politically motivated”. “I am happy that they have arrested me. This is a political game. I haven’t done anything wrong,” he told reporters while the police took him for a medical test before producing him in the court.
Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, however, refuted the allegation. “The police are doing a good job. No one would be spared no matter how big he is,” he said.
The US-based consultancy firm Louis Berger revealed that it had paid a bribe of `6.1 crore to an Indian minister in the state to get the contract for a water project with funding from the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
Though the company didn’t name anyone, Alemao’s name cropped up as he was PWD Minister when the contract was awarded.
Alemao, 66, has been a controversial figure in Goa politics.
He faced allegations of gold smuggling in 1980s. His family, which owns the football team Churchill Brothers, had a strong influence in south Goa till 2012 Assembly election.
Alemao, his daughter Velanka, his brother Joaqium and nephew Yuri all lost the election.
The defeat also underlined the declining base of the Congress among the majority Catholics in the state.
Alemao, who had become Chief Minister for a brief period in 1990, quit the Congress to join the TMC to contest the May 2014 Lok Sabha election from south Goa. He polled only 11,914 votes.
Kamat’s Fate in Limbo
Police may oppose Digambar Kamat’s anticipatory bail petition when the Panaji court takes it up for a hearing on Friday.
According to a senior officer, the police will oppose the plea, saying they need Kamat’s judicial interrogation in the bribery case.
DGP T Mohan has said the investigation officer will take a call on whether or not to oppose the petition.
Kamat applied for anticipatory bail after police questioned him twice on his role in awarding the contract. The police wanted to know from him whether he, as Finance Minister, bypassed rules to make funds available for the controversial project. Meanwhile, the senior Congress leader’s supporters gathered at his house in Margao in a show of solidarity for him.