Panaji, May 14 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Goa unit president Vinay Tendulkar here on Tuesday said he had requested the BJP-led coalition government to shut the offshore casino industry, after the licences of the current casino operations expire.
“The party’s demand is that offshore casinos should be shut. If people don’t want onshore casinos, which function from five-star hotels, they too will be closed,” Tendulkar, also a Rajya Sabha member, said addressing the media.
His comments came days ahead of the May 19 Panaji Assembly by-election. Candidates of the Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Goa Suraksha Manch have already promised in their respective poll manifestos closure of offshore casinos.
Tendulkar said, the BJP has formally requested the state government to shut the offshore casinos, parked in the Mandovi river off Panaji, and that Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has promised to look into the issue.
“We have been assured that the government is thinking about it and that if time comes, we will shut casinos,” Tendulkar said.
Goa’s two main political parties, the Congress and the BJP, have a chequered history as far as their respective disposition towards the casino industry is concerned.
When in the opposition from 2007 to 2012, the BJP vociferously opposed casino operations in Goa, most of the licences for which had been granted by the Congress-led coalition governments.
Top BJP leaders, including late Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, on several occasions had promised to close the offshore casino industry once it assumed power in the coastal state.
Once the BJP rode to power in 2012, however, the Congress started accusing the BJP for being in cahoots with the casino lobby, especially after successive coalition governments headed by it failed to close offshore casino operations.