Opposition parties on Wednesday demanded that Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant be sacked after former governor Satya Pal Malik accused the state government of corruption during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Congress demanded a time-bound investigation under the supervision of a sitting Supreme Court judge into the charges and filing of a case against Sawant by various Central agencies including the ED, CBI and SFO.
Senior Congress leaders said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should come out and answer why no action was initiated against the chief minister when the governor (Malik) had informed him about the "corruption" by the state government.
In Goa, where Assembly elections are a few months away, a delegation of Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders led by Lok Sabha member Saugata Roy and including former Union Minister Babul Supriyo and the party's vice president Luizinho Faleiro met Governor P S Sridharan Pillai and requested him to immediately seek resignation from the chief minister and announce investigation by an independent agency.
The TMC also demanded a white paper on the government purchases and expenditures during the pandemic.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) demanded the resignation of Sawant while the Goa Forward Party demanded that he be sacked.
While Sawant has not yet commented on the claims made by Malik, which provided ammunition to Opposition parties ahead of Goa polls, the BJP has dismissed the allegations.
"There was corruption in everything the Goa government did (during the COVID-19 pandemic). I was removed for my allegation of corruption against the Goa government," Malik, now the governor of Meghalaya, alleged in a TV interview.
He also termed the Goa government's initiative to distribute ration at people's doorsteps as "impractical", alleging that it was launched on the "insistence of a company that paid money to the government."
In Delhi, Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala and AICC Goa in-charge Dinesh Gundurao demanded that the Modi government dismiss Pramod Sawant from the post.
They said Malik, incumbent Governor of Meghalaya and ex-governor of Goa (Oct 2019 to August 2020) and Jammu and Kashmir (August 2018 to October 2019), accepted what the Congress has been saying that there was "corruption in everything Goa government was handling".
Malik had told Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the corruption, but no action was initiated, Surjewala said, adding that instead, Malik was transferred from Goa to Meghalaya.
Surjewala said that in a TV interview, Malik had made a "shocking revelation" that, on the day when the lockdown was announced, the Goa government had not allowed stores selling basic essentials to open but allowed one company to sell them door to door as it had "given money" to the Goa government.
Malik has further alleged that the Goa government had allowed mining trucks to illegally operate during the coronavirus pandemic, which turned out to be a spreader of Covid in Goa, Surjewala said.
AICC Goa in-charge Dinesh Gundurao alleged that the prime minister was "directly protecting" corrupt people by not acting even after the then governor told him about the corruption that was happening.
Surjewala and Gundurao demanded that the Modi government act and immediately dismiss the chief minister and the entire council of ministers of the Goa government who were directly, indirectly "involved in such massive corruption", and that too in the middle of the pandemic.
The Enforcement Directorate, Central Bureau of Investigation, Serious Fraud Investigation Office and other agencies should be directed to file a case against the Goa chief minister and all others involved in corruption, they said.
Aam Aadmi Party leader Raghav Chaddha, speaking at a press conference in Delhi, demanded that Sawant resign immediately and sought an independent judicial probe.
The AAP also held a protest march in Panaji, led by its state convener Rahul Mahambrey.
A delegation of the Goa Forward Party, led by Vijai Sardesai, also met the governor demanding the sacking of the chief minister.
Independent MLA Rohan Khaunte said the CM should be sacked and President's rule be imposed in the state.
After Malik's interview aired, Goa BJP chief Sadanand Shet Tanavade had said that the allegations were false and baseless, and they would be complaining to the Union government against him.