In two decades of politics, Francisco alias Mickky Pacheco has come a long way from sporting bandanas in his ministerial chamber to bandhgalas in public engagements now.
Mickky, one of the state’s most mercurial politicians, has also changed six political parties, spent time in prison as a convict, and endured CBI, IT, Crime Branch probes in that period.
After four and a half years in political oblivion, however, Pacheco, a former seamster who specialised in stitching wedding gowns, is now tailoring an electoral comeback with the help of the Congress party, which he joined earlier this month.
“I joined Congress. Why? Because I valued the Congress. Because when Congress was in power, people maybe did not value it at the time. People have understood the value of the Congress government, only after BJP came into power,” Pacheco told IANS.
Incidentally, after the late Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar was elevated as Union Defence Minister in the National Democratic Alliance government in 2014, it was Pacheco who filled the vacant slot in the BJP-led coalition government-led by Laxmikant Parsekar.
Pacheco has joined two governments headed by the BJP in the past and says the BJP and the Congress are like fire and water and he was a “free bird” who could have chosen either.
“The Congress and BJP are two different parties which are water and fire. They cannot be together. They are always opposites. Me jumping parties is out of the question because I supported the ruling party and seen the light and how it is. I have no reason to jump. If that was the case I would have joined them… I was a free bird I would have joined them (BJP),” said Pacheco.
According to Pacheco, Congress has pitched him a broader role that involves “galvanising” voters across constituencies, especially where he has pockets of support.
“I will get the people on board and galvanise with the party and even in far distant constituencies wherever my pockets are there, I will ask them to get together,” Pacheco said.
Pachecho’s sphere of influence is largely focussed around the Salcete sub-district, a Catholic-dominated cluster of Assembly seats, which has been the Congress’ political fiefdom over the years.
With several of the ten Congress MLAs who crossed over into the BJP in 2019 hailing from the Salcete region, Pacheco has his work cut out, provided his past does not end up haunting him once again.
Pacheco, a former tourism minister has been booked and charged for a wide variety of cases over the last decade and more ranging from bigamy, extortion, cheating, abettment to suicide, assaulting government servants on more than one occasion.
The CBI also booked him in 2010 for cheating, forgery, and using fake documents to facilitate illegal immigration of Indians to the US and has been raided by the Income Tax department in 2014.
The four-time MLA claims that most cases against him were politically motivated.
“I have fought the CBI case for nine years. That is also closed. There is no case. The Income Tax case was a big blunder. They fined me Rs 20 crore. The matter is in the tribunal. It has been going on for the last two years,” said Pacheco.
He has also been convicted in the case for assaulting a government servant, a charge he defends by saying that the official had allegedly misbehaved with a female elected representative in public.
Another case which was his most sensational brush with notoriety yet, involved the mysterious death of a confidante Nadia Torrado, allegedly due to poisoning in 2010.
The police had zeroed in on Pacheco as the key suspect, but that case too, the former Minister claims, was closed in 2015.
“It was a politically motivated case. To save her life, I tried my best. Whatever money I spent, forget about that. I tried my best to save her. Everyone had ganged up (against me). It was a very transparent inquiry. In 2015, the case was closed,” Pacheco said.
Commenting on the manner in which his sartorial style has evolved form wearing bandanas to office in the early 2000s to wearing bandhgalas and suits, Pacheco claims that it is a sign that he has matured as a politician and kept distance from the rockstar persona of two decades back.
“At that time, I was a young politician. There was a hype which was created… That life was different altogether. I am matured now. But the people are still with me,” he said.