Panaji, May 10 (IANS) The BJP and Congress on Friday traded charges over criminal cases, including rape of a minor girl, filed against the latter’s candidate for the May 19 Panaji Assembly bypoll.
While the BJP alleged that electing Atanasio Monserrate, who has been charge sheeted for raping a minor girl last year, would render the state capital unsafe for women, the Congress in response claimed that Monserrate had been appointed as a chairperson of a government authority by then Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar even after being accused of rape.
“The Congress candidate has been charge sheeted for raping a minor girl. The people of Panaji do not want a person accused of rape as an MLA. The state capital will be unsafe for women,” state BJP Vice President Kunda Chodankar told a press conference.
Monserrate was charge sheeted last year under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 506 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act after being accused of the crime in 2016. He has also been booked in cases related to assault, leading a mob to attack the Panaji town police station, among others.
In his political career, Monserrate has also jumped multiple parties. Apart from quitting and joining the Congress on at least two occasions, he has also served as a cabinet minister in the Parrikar-headed, BJP-led coalition government in 2002. He also joined Goa Forward, a BJP ally, two years back and was rewarded by Parrikar with the chairmanship of the Greater Panaji Public Development Authority in February last year.
Responding to the BJP charges, state Congress president Girish Chodankar accused the BJP of doublespeak.
“Monserrate’s credentials have been endorsed by late Parrikar, who appointed him the head of the government authority much after the rape case was filed against our candidate. So is it a case, that if a person facing such a case supports the BJP, it is acceptable and when he joins the Congress, he becomes an evil?” he asked.