Louis Berger case figures in Goa House; BJP corners Congress
Panaji: Ruling coalition members in Goa Assembly on Monday targeted opposition Congress over the Louis Berger bribery scam, which allegedly involves a former minister of the party. Led by ruling BJP, treasury benches were vociferous in attacking Congress and demanded a CBI probe into the scandal, which dates back to the time when the party was leading a coalition government in the coastal state.
Louis Berger, a US-based consultancy firm, has been charged with bribing Indian officials with several crores to secure two major water developmental projects, one each in Goa and Assam. The alleged bribery of USD 9,76,630 for the Goa project included a bribe to a then minister.
"Louis Berger was given consultancy contract by the Congress-led government. We demand that inquiry should be conducted in all the dealings of this US company," said BJP leader Pramod Sawant while initiating a discussion on the scandal in the Assembly.
He said Goa's image has been tarnished internationally after the bribery scam came to light. "I know Crime Branch has already initiated an inquiry but we feel CBI should handle the case as this is an international scam."
Vishnu Surya Wagh (BJP) said the US company had also worked as a consultant for the sealink bridge connecting Vasco to Dona Paula (outskirt of Panaji).
"This company was paid crores of rupees only to certify that the sealink project is not feasible. Why did Congress require Louis Berger to certify it?" he asked.
Interestingly, all Congress MLAs, barring Mauvin Godinho, were absent from the House when the discussion was on.
The opposition legislators had walked out from the House earlier in the day demanding inquiry against Industries Minister Mahadev Naik for his alleged involvement in housing loan scam.
Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), an alliance partner, too, supported BJP the demand of CBI inquiry.
"The CBI should investigate the case. The truth should prevail and guilty should be punished," said Lavu Mamlatdar (MGP).