Panaji: British MP of Indian origin Keith Vaz`s electoral campaigning on Sunday for a controversial political family in Goa, has triggered outrage in the Goan diasopra and on internet.
Vaz shared the stage with Valanka Alemao, one of the four members of the Alemao family contesting the March 3 polls to the state assembly here. He has defended his presence at Valanka`s debut electoral campaign from the Benaulim assembly constituency as a "personal issue".
The six-time Labour MP of Goan origin from Leicester addressed a Congress party election meeting at Varca in South Goa on Sunday. This sparked outrage among the Goan diaspora, of which some members have now shot off a letter of complaint to the British Prime Minister`s Office at 10 Downing street, London, and the British high commission in New Delhi.
"Foreigners cannot take part in Indian politics...especially members of parliament of a foreign nation. Vaz`s support to the controversial Alemao family is not a palatable thing for any of us," said Sarto Rodrigues on Tuesday, a member of the Goa NRI forum from Abu Dhabi, who has drafted the complaint.
Four Alemaos -- Churchill, his daughter Valanka, and brother Joaquim and his son Yuri -- are due to contest the forthcoming state assembly polls, the first three on Congress tickets, while Yuri is contesting as a Nationalist Congress party (NCP) candidate. Together, the Alemao quartet is vying for one-tenth of the 40 assembly seats up for grabs in the Goa legislative assembly.
"The constituencies of Benaulim, Navelim, Cuncolim where three of the Alemaos are contesting have a significant Christian population. A lot of folks from this area are also working in Europe or have migrated there. Therefore, it makes political sense for the Alemaos to invite a British MP for campaigning in those parts," a senior Congressman close to the Alemaos said.
Both cabinet ministers in the state government, the Alemao brothers Churchill and Joaquim have had chequered political careers. Alemao Churchill has been a chief minister for a fortnight in the 1990s. He has also been booked for smuggling and detained under the National Security Act (NSA) in the past, while his brother Joaquim was listed as a `goonda` (goon) by the local police up to 2000.
"I was shocked to see a British parliamentarian trying to influence voters in Goa. Foreign nationals are not allowed to influence the outcome of election in another country," said Freddy Fernandes on popular Goanese expat website www.nizgoenkar.net.
When contacted, Vaz admitted to campaigning for Valanka, but said it was a personal issue.
"I`ve known Valanka for 20 years. I actually encouraged her to stand. I said to her if you ever stand and I am ever in Goa, I will certainly come along and support you. So, it`s a personal issue," Vaz said, adding that it was "up to the people of Goa to decide who they want."
When asked to respond to the complaint against him made to the British high commission, Vaz said: "The British high commission does not control members of parliament".