NEW DELHI/PANAJI (TIP): Congress on June 25 accused defence minister Manohar Parrikar of concealing an FIR in his election nomination papers, urging the central election commission to initiate action against him.
An FIR was filed against Parrikar in Goa in 2006 for alleged financial misappropriation while creating infrastructural facilities for the international film festival of India (iffi) in 2004 when Goa for the first time hosted the mega film festival. The complaint was filed against Parrikar who was chief minister in 2004 by Congress MLA Mauvin Godinho based on the observations in a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India report.The Congress stuck to its stand saying “This is a serious issue and has to be taken to its logical conclusion. It is a case of concealment of fact. Voters should have known this fact about Parrikar since the FIR is under the Prevention of Corruption Act,” Congress legal cell chief KC Mittal said, adding that AICC would pursue the case with the EC. Asked for his comment, Goa Pradesh Congress Committee president Luizinho Faleiro told TOI that the complaint has been filed by AICC legal cell before the Election commission of India.
Sources close to Parrikar dubbed the Congress move as infructuous. They said candidates have to file details of a case only if they have been chargesheeted, which was not the case in the said FIR.
After the FIR was filed in 2006 by the Congress government led by then chief minister Pratap Singh Rane, the case was transferred to the CBI in December 2006. In August 2011, the CBI closed the case on the grounds that the allegations made in the FIR couldn’t be substantiated.
As then chief minister, Parrikar held the finance portfolio in addition to being the chairman of Goa state infrastructural development corporation (GSIDC) – the special purpose vehicle appointed agency appointed as the nodal agency for iffi projects. He also headed the core committee set up by the government for taking policy decisions for iffi.
The works executed then included construction of a multiplex (now Inox theatre complex), upgradation and restoration of facilities at Kala Academy (which was the main festival theatre) and improvement of roads and other related projects including beautification works. Besides, the third Patto bridge was constructed along the River Mandovi – all costing around Rs 150 crore.
GAG in its report of 2004-05 had pointed out that the “tendering process suffered due to lack of transparency and that tender evaluation procedure was faulty.” In its analysis, it also said that “there were cases of excess payments/wasteful expenditure and over dependence on consultants on all the major works.”During the investigation, Parrikar, then opposition leader, was quizzed in 2009. In 2011, the CBI filed a closure report in the court saying the allegations made in the FIR couldn’t be substantiated. Congress was ruling then both in the state and the centre. The complaint was filed months after BJP lost power in 2005.