Elvis Gomes, the Aam Aadmi Party’s chief ministerial face for the upcoming Assembly elections in Goa, appeared before the state Anti-Corruption Bureau on Monday in connection with an investigation into an alleged case of land conversion. A number of AAP volunteers stood outside the ACB office in Panaji’s Altinho neighbourhood holding placards in his support.
Gomes, who was Goa’s former inspector general of prison, said it was no coincidence that the ACB had summoned him soon after he was made the AAP’s chief ministerial candidate. “It is to cause harassment and distract. They release half-baked stories to the media. The dirty tricks will not work against me,” he said in an interview to CNN-News18 on Saturday.
The alleged scam dates back to 2007 when Gomes served as the managing director and joint secretary of the Goa Housing Board. Gomes, along with Nilkant Halarnkar of the Congress had acquired a 30,000-sqm plot in South Goa’s Margao to implement a housing scheme. Halarnkar was the chairman of the board then.
Gomes allegedly did not follow protocol while approving one Vincent Gracias’ appeal to the housing board, requesting authorities to not acquire the land as he, along with a few others, were cultivators of the property. It was later found that Gracias had no authority over the land. Moreover, the property was changed from a settlement zone to a commercial zone in 2010, which raised had its valuation. This meant that the government had acquired the land from the existing owners, increased its valuation and then returned it to the owners.
The 53-year-old will be contesting from the Cuncolim constituency in South Goa in the state Assembly polls expected to be held early next year. “AAP represents the future in this country which is reeling under the weight of misdeeds of the BJP and Congress,” he told CNN-News18.