PANAJI: Former Education Minister Atanasio Monserrate, accused of raping a minor girl, on Thursday joined the Congress.
He is likely to be fielded from Panaji in the May 19 Assembly by-election against prospective Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) nominee Utpal Parrikar, son of late Manohar Parrikar.
Monserrate has a history of changing parties. He started his political career with the United Goan Democratic Party (UGDP) and became MLA. Later, he joined the BJP in 2004 only to return to the UGDP in 2007.
A few years later, he was in the Congress but was sacked for anti-party activities in 2015. He then joined the Goa Forward (GF) and was an office-bearer till a few weeks back.
Hailing from Taleigao, a Panaji suburb, Monserrate wields sizeable influence on the politics of the Goa capital and the Panaji Municipal Corporation.
Last year, he was charge-sheeted for allegedly raping a minor girl and human trafficking, though he says he was framed. Monserrate has also been booked for extortion in the past.
"You can say it's the return of the prodigal son. The son has learnt a lesson roaming everywhere. It's like a homecoming. I am here to defeat the BJP," Monserrate told reporters after joining the Congress again.