Panaji, Jan 15 (IANS) In what could be regarded as a derogatory slur against non-Goans, Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar on Tuesday said Goans would be given first preference in an upcoming beach cleaning work contract and “ghatis” and outsiders would be not be preferred for this.
When reporters pointed out the gaffe to Ajgaonkar, the minister said he used the word “ghati” only to refer to people who reside in the ghats (mountains).
“Tomorrow, whoever wins the main tender, that person will execute the job. And preference will be given only for Goans first (for jobs). Outsiders, ghatis cannot come in. Goans will have first preference,” Ajgaonkar told reporters, while speaking about the tendering process of a beach cleaning contract being initiated by his ministry.
When reporters pointed out to Ajgaonkar, about the use of the derogatory reference, the minister said: “Ghati word is not a bad word. Ghati means a person staying in the ghats,” Ajgaonkar said.
The slur “ghati” is typically used in Marathi and Konkani languages to address migrant blue collar workers.
In April 2017, Ajgaonkar had caused a stir when he had demanded a ban on lamanis, members of a gypsy tribe who hail from central and southern Indian states, from coming to Goa and “setting up businesses and taking away jobs”.
After the Minister refused to apologise for his comments, Deputy Speaker of the state legislative assembly Michael Lobo apologised on his behalf, after several lamani organisations threatened legal action.