Another tainted Goa politician joins Congress

Last Updated: Thu, Jun 24, 2010 12:40 hrs

Within days of admitting into the party a legislator with three criminal charge-sheets against him, Congress's Goa unit Thursday rolled out the red carpet to Vishwajeet Rane, yet another politician facing serious criminal charges.

However, state Congress chief Subhash Shirodkar said the Congress high command had taken the decision to enroll Rane, charge-sheeted by the police in May for threatening to kill an activist lawyer Aires Rodrigues.

An independent legislator from Valpoi constituency in north Goa and health minister in the Digambar Kamat-led coalition government, Rane is the son of Goa's longest serving chief minister Pratapsing Rane, who is currently the speaker of the assembly.

Rane resigned from the cabinet and as a legislator Thursday morning before joining the Congress. He was sworn in again as minister in the afternoon, an hour after he joined the ruling party.

'I had spoken to the Congress president Sonia-ji (Gandhi) about my wanting to join the Congress. Accordingly, this has been done,' Rane told reporters after the swearing-in at the Raj Bhavan, adding that he would be contesting elections within the next six months as stipulated.

Asked for reasons why the Goa Congress was welcoming tainted legislators into its fold, Shirodkar said: 'Why don't you ask the high command? Why are you asking me these questions?'

Speaking to reporters at the Raj Bhavan, he said that such major policy decisions were taken by the Congress' central leadership and that the state unit had nothing to do with such decisions.

Shirodkar has, in the recent past, compared tainted legislators to 'school children' who needed to be 'given opportunities to improve'.

On Monday, the Congress had inducted Education Minister Atanasio Monserrate, an unattached legislator of the United Goans Democratic Party (UGDP), into the party fold. Monserrate has been charge-sheeted several times for arson, assault, extortion and other serious crimes.