Dharmesh Saglani, 46-year-old Goan Congress strongman and C.M. Sawant’s pet peeve

One day after He was stopped in an extortion case on Monday, Goa Congress leader Dharmesh Saglani was released on bail by a court in Panaji. He was the Congress candidate from the prestigious Sanquelim constituency, represented by BJP leader and Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, in the February 14 National Assembly elections.

Of the four criminal cases Saglani, 46, declared in his campaign affidavit, two offenses were filed against him in January, days after Congress ousted him from Sanquelim.

As part of a complaint filed against him on January 24, Saglani was arrested on Monday evening on various charges including extortion, forcible confinement and threats against a Faridabad businessman in December 2021.

Saglani was in the spotlight when he gave CM Sawant a hard time in the Sanquelim election battle which turned out to be tied. The two leaders had also crossed swords in the 2017 assembly elections, when Sawant defeated Saglani by a margin of more than 2,000 votes. But, the 2022 polls turned into a different ballgame when the congressional challenger reduced Sawant’s margin of victory to just 666 votes. As well as being the incumbent CM, Sawant was also the face of the saffron party in the election, but he trailed in the early rounds of vote counting. He managed to pass Saglani at the end, but the latter ensured the race was close.

The case in which Saglani was arrested was registered at Agassaim Police Station on January 24, which was later transferred to the Criminal Section of Goa Police. According to the complaint filed by Ankit Jajodia, a 28-year-old businessman, who played poker in offshore casinos in Goa, Saglani and several others tried to extort Rs 50 lakh from him. He alleged that Saglani and other defendants including Rajneesh Kumar, Shashank Singh, Manish Jain and three others who worked as bouncers unlawfully confined him in a house in Bambolim, threatened and assaulted him. He accused of being forcibly detained for an hour in a room on the first floor of the house. His complaint also stated that “Rajneesh grabbed me by the neck and threatened to kill, then Dharmesh joined him and threatened to cut me in half, (while) the bouncers made sure I didn’t run away. not. He added that he was however released after an hour.

Saglani spent a night in police custody before being released on bail by a magistrate. He then told reporters outside the court: “Justice has prevailed. I trust the law. I have cooperated with the police before and will cooperate in the future. Let people know the truth. People already know the truth. I don’t have to pronounce it. When asked if the allegations against him were “politically motivated”, he replied: “There is no need to say that”.

Saglani was a councilor on the Sanquelim City Council (SMC). In Assembly polls, Sanquelim’s contest became a high-stakes affair after Congress nominated him as its candidate against the CM. This was demonstrated as the campaign for Sawant Union Home Secretary Amit Shah urged voters to secure his hat trick, while Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also sought to drum up support of his party in the constituency.

Ambitious leader of the big old party, Saglani dominates the SMC on the ground of CM Sawant. In municipal elections held in six municipal councils and the Panjim City Corporation (PCC) on March 20, 2021, BJP-backed candidates scored major victories, sweeping the CCP and winning five municipal councils. The only city council the ruling party lost was the SMC in which a Congress-backed panel emerged victorious. While municipal elections are not held on the basis of party symbols, contests involve panels backed by rival political parties. The SMC polls had become a prestige battle between Sawant and Saglani, who had thrown their weight behind their respective panels.

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