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Casinos main issue in Panaji bypoll,Panji bypolls, Congress promises to move out offshore casinos,

Casinos main issue in Panaji bypoll

Panaji,(IANS) Goa's controversial offshore casinos could take centrestage in the forthcoming by poll for Panaji assembly seat, which fell vacant after the elevation of then chief minister Manohar Parrikar as the union defence minister in November last year.

With polling three weeks away, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party have fired the first salvo about the proliferation of the casinos in each other's regimes.

According to state Congress president Luizinho Faleiro the failure of the Bharatiya Janata Party to deliver Goa from offshore casinos would be one of the key poll issues.

"All you have to do is to look at the BJP's election manifesto in 2012. They promised to throw away casinos in the deep sea. What has made them change position and even allow an additional casino on the Mandovi river," Faleiro told IANS.

Goa has five operational offshore casinos which attract hundreds of thousands of gamblers to the state annually.

Most of the offshore casinos were set up during the Congress's tenure in power from 2007-2012.

Ahead of the 2012 state assembly poll, the BJP had promised, that if voted to power, its government would rid the river of the casinos. However, after becoming chief minister, Parrikar, and now his successor Laxmikant Parsekar allowed the offshore casino industry to function citing "big investments" by casino promoters in Goa. Parsekar government is now considering renewing licenses for the same offshore casino operations they opposed.

When contacted for comment Parsekar Saturday said that Congress' casino strategy would boomerang on the Opposition party.

"The casinos were not brought here by us. We will relocate the casinos if we get space. The casino issue will boomerang on the Congress," Parsekar said.

Parrikar's former political aide Sidharth Kunkolienkar is contesting on the BJP ticket, while the Congress has fielded Mayor Surendra Furtdado for the Feb 13 bye poll.


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