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Close down offshore casinos after expiry of licences: BJP to CM

Panaji: Making clear its position over the issue of offshore casinos in River Mandovi, the Bharatiya Janata Party has recommended to Chief Minister Pramod Sawant that these casinos should be closed down following expiry of their present licences.

Coming out with this information, state BJP president Vinay Tendulkar told the media during a press conference on Tuesday that BJP has made its stand clear to the Chief Minister, following pressure from the public to shut down the gambling houses anchored along the capital city of Panaji. “If the people come out with a demand to close the land-based casinos in Goa, then the party will also make related recommendation to the government,” he added.

It may be recalled that the Congress party, in its manifesto for the capital city, has assured to shift the offshore casinos from River Mandovi in 100 days, while the Goa Suraksha Manch has promised moving them in the Arabian Sea. BJP, however, had not made any mention about the casinos in the manifesto of its candidate for Panaji by-election Sidharth Kunkalienkar.

Maintaining that the literate and mature voters of Panaji would elect the BJP candidate, Tendulkar said that national BJP leader and central minister Nitin Gadkari will address a public meeting on May 16, in the city, as a part of BJP’s electoral campaign for the Panaji bypoll. “The meeting will be tentatively held near Zari – the fountain – at Boca da Vaca,” he added.

Speaking further, Tendulkar said that all the casinos in River Mandovi were cleared by the then Congress government. “The BJP government was eventually compelled to renew their licences,” he noted. The state BJP chief also retorted that the previous candidates of the Goa Suraksha Manch namely Ketan Bhatikar and Anand Shirodkar received only 1.5 per cent and 1.25 per cent of the votes, respectively, at the earlier assembly elections in the Panaji constituency. “The real contest at the May 19 Panaji bypoll would be between the BJP and the Congress,” he mentioned, while diluting the importance of the GSM.

Senior BJP state leader Rajendra Arlekar, admitting that the GSM candidate Subhash Velingkar had played some role in bringing the BJP to its present position in Goa, maintained that there were other leaders and members of the Goa unit of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh too, who contributed towards the same.

“Myself, Shripad Naik and Laxmikant Parsekar were the three persons, who were lent by the RSS to the BJP for its work in Goa, during early days of the BJP in the state,” Arlekar maintained, stating that other leaders like Manohar Parrikar, Satish Dhond and Govind Parvatkar with countless workers followed.

“It is the collective work of all these people, which has taken the BJP to the pinnacle of success in Goa,” he said, pointing out that the people moving with Velingkar have no knowledge as regards history of the BJP in Goa, and are wrongly publicising that Velingkar was the lone person responsible for the success of BJP in the state.  

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