Goa’s Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar has not been able to put an end to the casino business, despite protests from the public and other politicians, local media reports.
Parsekar said that, while he does not support increasing casinos in the state, the pro-investor environment and legal protections that investors enjoy mean that it isn’t possible to “abruptly kick out investors who have invested in the state.”
“The state’s economy is dependent on casinos. But at the same time it should not be misunderstood that I am supporting to increase the number of casinos in the state,” said Parsekar on Saturday.
However, Parsekar has assured that no more casinos would be allowed to set up business in Goa, especially considering the public opposition to them.
The BJP government, whom Parsekar leads, came to power in 2012, promising to put an end to onshore and offshore casino businesses in Goa.
However, since then, the BJP government had come under fire for “going back on its word”. Parsekar defended this notion, saying it just isn’t possible to put an end to an industry so abruptly.
“Those casinos which were here are being renewed. Those people who were given permissions, whose licences were renewed, who paid money for it… they cannot be told unilaterally that you leave. This is my position. I have not brought in new casinos,” Parsekar said.
Despite this, tensions run high amongst fellow politicians and the public.
Last Friday, a BJP member further agitated growing tensions by threatening to resign should the government refuse to remove Casino Caravela from River Mandovi.
“Despite being a member of the BJP, I am ready to lead an agitation against the stationing of the casino. If the government does not remove the casino within 15 days, I am even ready to resign,” said BJP-backed Corporation of the City of Panaji councillor Rupesh Halarnkar.