The Goa Congress' women's wing here on Monday alleged that Atanasio 'Babush Monserrate, the party candidate for the Panaji Assembly by-election, has been framed in a 2016 case of minor's rape, and accused the BJP-led coalition government in the state of vindictive politics.
Monserrate was chargesheeted last year under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 506 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act after being booked in 2016 for allegedly raping a minor after drugging her.
The rape case has emerged as one of most discussed issues in the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) election campaign for the May 19 vote. Monserrate is taking on BJP candidate Sidharth Kuncalienkar in the by-election.
Last week, the BJP women's wing had said if Monserrate, facing several criminal cases, including those related to assault, arson, leading a mob to attack the Panaji town police station and cases under the Income Tax Act, was elected the state capital would witness lawlessness.
Coutinho on Monday said the rape case was being raked up due to the by-election. "The BJP did not have a problem when Monserrate was supporting its government, as a Goa Forward member. Where were their voices when he was supporting the BJP-led coalition government?" Coutinho remarked.
In his political career spanning two decades, Monserrate has travelled to several parties. Apart from quitting and joining the Congress on at least two occasions, he has also served as minister in the Manohar Parrikar-headed government in 2002.
He 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 2018. But he quit the BJP to join the Congress soon after the Panaji by-election was announced.
The by-election has been necessitated due to death of Parrikar on March 17 following a protracted battle with pancreatic cancer.
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