AAP’s chief ministerial face for Goa, Elvis Gomes, on Monday appeared before ACB in connection with an inquiry into an alleged land conversion ‘scam’,amid allegations by his party said he was being victimised, a charge which the ruling BJP rubbished.
Gomes, who appeared before the anti-graft agency in connection with the case, has refuted the allegations against him, saying the timing of summoning him for the probe is “suspicious.” A former IG (Prisons), 53-year-old Gomes had taken voluntary retirement from police service some time back and joined AAP, which is making a serious bid in the assembly polls in the coastal state due in early 2017. Gomes, who was then managing director of Goa Housing Board, and Nilkant Halarnkar, its chairman at that time, allegedly acquired about 30,000 sq m of land near Margao town, changed its ‘zoning’ (reservation) to residential, which would have increase its market value, and later gave it back to the owner in 2011, as per the ACB’s FIR.
The board had acquired the land for building residential units and allegedly got its zoning changed from ‘orchard’ to ‘settlement’. Reacting to the development,AAP national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal alleged that Gomes was being victimised by Goa’s BJP-led government. “Elvis Gomes is known all over Goa for his honesty. Being victimised by BJP government,” Kejriwal tweeted, minutes after Gomes appeared before the ACB at its office in Altinho locality of Panaji.
AAP also posted a video on twitter which showed Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and Deputy Chief Minister Francis D’Souza praising Gomes in the past. “Watch this. BJP’s dirty tactics. Elvis was an honest/efficient officer till he intended to join AAP. Goa CM/DyCM used to praise him,” AAP leader Ashutosh alleged in a tweet. AAP Goa leader Dr Oscar Rebello, addressing party volunteers outside the ACB office, alleged, “They have been asking him to join BJP. They sent him a strong message that if you want your cases to be withdrawn then join us.” BJP rubbished the charge of victimising Gomes.
“It is an inquiry by ACB. What role do we have to play in it?” BJP’s Goa unit chief Vinay Tendulkar said. He said the case was filed against Gomes when he was in the government service. “How can AAP relate the case to elections and politics?” he questioned. Tendulkar said the AC is doing its job impartially.