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Saturday, Dec 14, 2019

Congress demands Goa CM’s resignation over Dodamarg ‘land deals’

Congress said the land ceiling in Maharashtra prevented ownership of more than 54 acres of agricultural land and wondered if Sawant had bought close to 3000 acres of land in the state.

india Updated: Nov 16, 2019 23:20 IST
Gerard de Souza
Gerard de Souza
Hindustan Times, Panaji
Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has defended his land purchases in Maharashtra
Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has defended his land purchases in Maharashtra(PTI Photo)
         

The Congress sought resignation of Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant while questioning his purchase of huge tracts of land in southern Maharashtra’s Dodamarg taluka, neighbouring Goa. Sawant responded by saying the land purchases were clean and he had nothing to hide.

All India Congress Committee Spokesperson Pawan Khera on Saturday attacked Sawant over the land deals that were recently highlighted on social media and asked him to ‘come clean’.

“What is it about the Dodamarg taluka in Maharashtra that the chief minister of Goa, who belongs to the BJP, goes to campaign against the joint candidate of BJP and Shiv Sena in the Sawantwadi assembly segment?” Khera asked.

Khera said the land ceiling in Maharashtra prevented ownership of more than 54 acres of agricultural land and wondered if Sawant had bought close to 3000 acres of land in the state.

“No one can own land over and above this ceiling, even if you happen to be the chief minister belonging to the BJP,” Khera said.

Sawant had in his affidavit, filed before the Goa Assembly general elections, declared possessing 2966 acres of land in Dodamarg, bought for Rs 38 lakh.

However, two more sale deeds came to light after the Maharashtra Assembly elections -- one for 4.39 acres of land purchased for Rs 14 lakh and another for 0.79 acres bought for Rs 36 lakh.

“What kind of a transaction is this where he (Sawant) allegedly buys 2966 acres of land in 2016 for a meagre 38 lakh rupees but in the same area, he spends Rs 14 lakh for 4.39 acres in 2019?” Khera asked.

Sawant has, however, defended his land purchases.

“There is nothing to hide. The money was paid from my bank account and the land is in my name. If I wanted to do anything on the sly, would I have registered the land in my own name?” Sawant said.

What has complicated matters is a demand in Dodamarg to merge with Goa since the taluka depends on the Union Territory for all its needs, including education, health and employment.

Khera said his party wanted to know if merger talk was “inspired” by the “investments” made by Sawant in the taluka.

“We demand the resignation of the Chief Minister for indulging in land deals, when he should be working for the people of Goa,” he added.