Accentuating the rift within the coalition government, the Nationalist Congress Party on Sunday echoed Tourism Minister Mickky Pacheco's charge that the Congress leaders in Goa were "cooking up cases against its leaders" to tarnish the image of the NCP.
Speaking to reporters in Panaji, state NCP president Carmo Pegado said the Congress, which is a majority partner in the state government, was intent on defaming the NCP in the run-up to the Maharashtra assembly polls.
"They should have consulted at least the party office-bearers or the chief of the NCP's legislative wing, before filing the complaint against him," Pegado said. "They could be doing this to harm the image of the NCP with the Maharashtra elections in mind."
Pacheco was booked last week for threatening casino officials at a five-star resort in South Goa and allegedly extorting Rs 3.6 lakh from the management. While the incident took place in June this year, the criminal complaint was filed only last week by the crime branch of the state police.
Pacheco has said that Chief Minister Digambar Kamat and Home Minister Ravi Naik, both of the Congress, had plotted to put him and the NCP on the backfoot.
"They have put in the non-bailable sections to harass me," Pacheco said in his anticipatory bail application.
Both Kamat and Naik have shrugged off the allegation.
"It is for each minister to decide on his actions. There is no question of interference," Kamat said.
The coalition government, in Goa includes the Congress, NCP, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, an unattached legislator from the United Goans Democratic party (UGDP) and an independent legislator, all of whom find representation in the cabinet.