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Goa Elections | “I am innocent. I am not corrupt... I am people’s leader”: Churchill Alemao

Five-time MLA, one-time member of Parliament and chief minister for 19 days, Churchill Alemao is ready to hang his boots after the 2022 election as a Trinamool Congress (TMC) candidate.

January 30, 2022 / 07:11 AM IST
Churchill Alemao, 72, is contesting the election as the Trinamool Congress (TMC) candidate for the Benaulim constituency.

Churchill Alemao, 72, is contesting the election as the Trinamool Congress (TMC) candidate for the Benaulim constituency.

It is difficult to fit Churchill Alemao, 72, into a single description.  Remember the parable of an elephant and the blind men trying to understand the thick-skinned gargantuan animal they had never seen? Alemao is like that elephant from the parable - everyone has their own interpretation of the seasoned politician who was Goa’s chief minister for precisely 19 days in 1990.

Dogged. Generous. Poor man’s messiah. Political party hopper. A man with run-ins with the law (in 1994, he was briefly arrested on smuggling charges and is still embroiled in the infamous Louis Berger bribery case). Football buff (he founded Churchill Brothers 55 years ago). Motor mouth (he once called Goan women ‘decent and delicate’ and those from outside ‘fast’). Playwright (he has written four plays). Music buff (he writes songs). Swimmer. Diver. And a man with political clout.

The interpretations are debatable but the facts aren’t. Starting his work life as a casual labourer for a daily wage of Rs 5, he became a welder, a sailor, and then trawler owner. Alemao became the chief minister in March 1990, barely three months into this first stint as a member of the legislative assembly (MLA) of Goa. That the tenure lasted only 19 days is stuff of another chronicle.

But so much has happened between Alemao eking out a living with small-time jobs and his current candidature as the Trinamool Congress (TMC) candidate for the Benaulim constituency. So much has happened that just keeping track of his political trajectory can addle anyone’s brain. Here's the short version: Alemao founded the United Nationalist Democratic Party in  1983. He joined the Indian National Congress in the late 1980s. He walked away from the Congress to form Save Goa Front in 2007 and then returned to the Congress a year later.