Panaji, Nov 15: Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar Saturday defended the inclusion of a 'tainted' minister in his 12-member cabinet, saying that it was his responsibility to make the best use of legislators who were elected by the people.
Parsekar was speaking to reporters at Raj Bhavan on the sidelines of the swearing-in ceremony of two cabinet ministers - Avertano Furtado (Independent) and Francisco alias Mickky Pacheco of alliance partner Goa Vikas Party.
Asked how Pacheco's inclusion was in sync with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of 'India First', Parsekar said: "People have voted for Mickky, despite the allegations and the things he is alleged to have done.
"In this term, I don't think there is any accusation. People have elected him, therefore it is my responsibility to use someone the people have elected," he said.
Since the early 2000s, Pachecho, then a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) legislator, has been booked for a wide range of offences.
The 50-year-old Pacheco has been booked for bigamy on a complaint by his wife Sara Pacheco and is being tried on the basis of her complaint in 2010 under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 at a trial court in Margao.
Responding to his wife's complaint then, Pacheco had challenged the media to prove his guilt.
"You prove that I am married twice and I will step down from the ministry. I am married only once, to Sara. I can have as many women as I want," Pacheco then told a press conference.
In 2002, Pacheco was booked for road rage, when he assaulted the driver of a state corporation bus.
He also courted controversy in 2009, when a traffic police constable complained to police that the minister had abused and threatened him when he was on duty in Margao, 35 km from here.
In 2009, the management of Treasures, a land-based casino, accused Pacheco of extorting several lakh rupees.
He was also caught on camera throwing thick wads of currency notes on the casino's gaming table before eventually assaulting a casino dealer.
In 2010, Pacheco was booked for abetment to suicide of his friend Nadia Torrado.
In the same year, he was also probed by the US government for allegedly running an immigration and money laundering racket.
The Central Bureau of Investigation had summoned Pacheco for questioning, after the external affairs ministry, on a request from the US State department, asked the agency to question Pacheco in a preliminary inquiry.
Later defending himself, Pacheco claimed that the candidates he recruited for jobs abroad used to send money back home to their families via his bank account, which had caused the confusion.
"I have bank statements. It is all in the open," he had said, claiming he would resign from office if the allegations were proven true.
But the criminal case which is proving to be a bane for Pacheco was the assault on a junior engineer attached to the state electricity department in 2006, which got him a conviction and six months imprisonment.
The conviction was later upheld by an appellate court and subsequently by the Bombay High Court bench in Goa. However, in July this year, the Supreme Court granted him relief by staying the conviction.
Speaking to IANS after the swearing-in Saturday, Pacheco said the complaints were "basically allegations".
"Anybody can write an FIR against you... a person who walks on the street. If the person goes and complains that you slapped him, then also an FIR can be filed," he said.
Pacheco incidentally is the only new minister in the state cabinet and filled former chief minister Manohar Parrikar's vacant slot.
Asked how he feels now that a 'tainted' minister has replaced him in the cabinet, Defence Minister Parrikar said: "You ask the chief minister, no comment on the (state) cabinet."