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Churchill Alemao’s Brush With Smuggling, Football and Louis Berger

Churchill Alemao was a man walking towards oblivion despite his colourful past, until the Louis Berger scam surfaced.

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Goa’s former PWD minister Churchill Braz Alemao was arrested for his alleged involvement in the Louis Berger case on Wednesday night.

Rarely has the old adage proved truer than in this case – looks are highly deceptive. Therefore, on the outside, Churchill Alemao’s case might look like any other. But look closer, and you’ll find that his story’s nothing short of a movie script.

Alemao: Smuggling, Real Estate and a Stabbing

Churchill Braz Alemao often talks about his humble past, telling stories of how he was at one point a daily wage labourer, cleaning utensils, and at another, a sailor on a meagre salary. His version of the story is that he worked his way through the drudgery and bought a shipping trawler that not only brought him fortune but also changed his life forever.

In the 1980s, Churchill and his brother Alvernas Alemao were allegedly involved in gold smuggling. The money was also invested in real estate. This was the decade when the Alemaos were building a base of their own. In case you didn’t know, Churchill Brothers – known to be one of the toughest football teams in India – is owned by the Alemao family.

The allegations against Churchill were never proved. But in 1992, his brother was caught smuggling by a customs officer. Alvernas allegedly stabbed him to death during the struggle. The story goes that the officer ran desperately to the local police station for refuge – but got none because it was the Alemaos’ stronghold.

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Alemao: CM’s Chair and the Rise

Churchill Alemao was a man walking towards oblivion despite his colourful past, until the Louis Berger scam surfaced.
File grab of former Goa PWD minister Churchill Alemao. (Photo: PTI)
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In 1989, Alemao entered the Goa assembly with a bang. Within three months, he toppled the Pratapsingh Rane led Congress government and became the first Catholic CM of Goa. From March 27 to April 14, Alemao enjoyed 18 days of Chief Ministership.

In the 90s, Alemao founded the United Goans Democratic Party. While the party soon fizzled out, it gave a big boost to Alemao’s popularity with the masses. A large part of this could perhaps be attributed to the fact that Alemao never tired of beguiling his audiences with stories of his daily wager days. Clearly, Alemao had discovered the way to sealing an iron-clad bond with his people.

The rise soon began to discomfit the Congress, however, because Alemao was eating into their Hindu vote bank. So in 1999, the grand old party embraced him as one of their own.

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Alemao: The Louis Berger Deal and the Downfall

Churchill Alemao was a man walking towards oblivion despite his colourful past, until the Louis Berger scam surfaced.
Goa water supply and sewerage project. (Photo: Louis Berger)
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In the 2000s, when the Congress was in power, Alemao was made the PWD minister. That was when the contract was given to Louis Berger. Alemao stayed on with the Congress for a long time after that.

In 2012, four members of his family saw a drubbing in the legislative assembly elections. A strong opposition to his candidature was asserted and his journey towards oblivion began.

In 2014, his daughter Valanka Alemao was denied a ticket. That’s when the Alemaos snapped ties with the Congress. He resigned and joined the All India Trinamool Congress – only to be defeated by a BJP candidate.

He was almost forgotten but the skeletons of the Louis Berger scam brought him back into the public eye. Now in jail, Alemao claims that this is political vendetta and that he will emerge out of it.

If you were to believe even the strongest of his detractors, Alemao is a survivor and he cannot be written off just yet.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Louis Berger   Churchill Alemao 

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