In trouble, but `real leader` Pacheco has support base intact

He may be in jail in a criminal case, but former Goa Minister Fransisco `Mickey` Pacheco has not lost the confidence of his supporters.

Panaji: He may be in jail in a criminal case, but former Goa Minister Fransisco `Mickey` Pacheco has not lost the confidence of his supporters.

The NCP leader`s followers had been minutely tracking the case, related to unnatural death of his female friend Nadia Torrado in May, and feel he is being "harassed" and has
become a victim of "political conspiracy".

They stood outside the court for hours and wait at the hospital where their leader, in judicial custody, is admitted.

The 46-year-old former Tourism Minister now faces the prospect of being arrested by Crime Branch after a local court yesterday rejected his bail petition.

The controversial legislator has achieved a near-cult status in his Benaulim constituency in south-west Goa. Despite being on the wrong side of law at several occasions, Pacheco
enjoys good support in his constituency.

As Pacheco remained underground for a month, the supporters regularly stood outside his house, where he stays with live-in partner Viola Fernandes, in show of solidarity.
Interestingly, his supporters include a large number of women.

"We will meet Chief Minister Digamber Kamat and seek his intervention in the matter," Joe Caldeira, a supporter, said.

"We want justice. We don`t mind if you put Micky behind bars if he is guilty. But what is happening now is just harassment," Eslinda Braganza, a woman supporter, said.

Even when reports of Pacheco surrendering before police surfaced, his followers thronged the Crime Branch office at Dona Paula here braving heavy rains.

They are also seen at Margao`s Hospicio Hospital, where Pacheco is admitted for treatment of hypertension, jaundice and urinary tract infection.

For three days when the Session Court in Margao heard his bail plea, the supporters patiently waited outside. When the plea was dismissed on Wednesday, they shouted slogan outside the court. Pacheco backers feel he is a victim of political conspiracy.

Braganza said Pacheco`s growing clout in South Goa has unnerved local politicians, who are trying to cut short his career by dragging him into controversies. "A few MLAs are
pressuring police department to put Micky behind bars."

Despite Pacheco having an image of flaunting women in his life, his support base has not dwindled among females.

"We are here because he has been generous. He has helped people when they were in need of it. He is a real leader," a young woman supporter stated.

The MLA`s backers also feel their leader has been portrayed in bad light by the media.