Kejriwal’s drug-menace barb drives wedge in Goa government (News Analysis)

Panaji, May 29 (IANS) Whether Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP will bloom or go bust in Goa in the upcoming assembly polls is a question with no fixed answer. But what is certain is that his 35-minute speech has not only raised the rhetoric on the serious issue of drug proliferation and addiction in the state but has also put the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government in a fix of sorts.

Less than a week after Kejriwal’s indictment of the Congress and the BJP rule for their inability to rein in drug use in Goa, Art and Culture Minister Dayanand Mandrekar has virtually confirmed the extent of the narco menace, claiming there is very little the incumbent government could do about it.

Drugs, he says, are easily available in the state capital as well as in educational institutions.

“What can be done about it? Drugs are available night and day at the DMC college in Mapusa, where not just youngsters but students are also getting spoilt,” said Mandrekar, a legislator from the Siolim assembly constituency that is home to popular beaches like Anjuna, Vagator and Chapora and where rave parties are hosted regularly.

When contacted, Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar said he did not agree with his minister. “I do not agree with his views,” Parsekar said.

Interestingly, Mandrekar claims no drugs are sold in these raves or beach parties, as he prefers to call them.

“Beach parties do not have drug use. Users take drugs elsewhere and then come to a beach party,” Mandrekar said.

Along the coastal areas, Mandrekar believes that the drug issue is linked to “white” foreigners. “Even if they take drugs here, only white foreign people consume drugs,” he said.

The extent of Goa’s drug trade was indicated in a legislative committee report tabled in the assembly in 2013.

The explosive findings were released to the media but the BJP-led state government continues to sit on the report. It alleges that a DGP (director general of police) rank officer is the kingpin of the police-drug mafia nexus and names a former home minister and his son for their links with Israeli drug peddlers.

Interestingly, BJP leaders had promised a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the police-politician-drug mafia nexus ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Subsequently, the then chief minister Manohar Parrikar told the Goa assembly that there were “organised gangs which specialise in distribution of drugs in the State”.

BJP lawmakers like Mandrekar and Calangute MLA Michael Lobo have alleged that drug mafias operate openly in Goa.

“The Nigerian and Russian mafia are going unchecked because the police are scared of them. The Nigerians are very organised. If you go into Tito’s lane at night, there are Nigerians openly asking tourists if they want ‘coca’, which is the street name of cocaine,” Lobo had said.

The Congress said the drug trade was rampant in Goa and had urged that Mandrekar should be questioned for his revelations.

“It is strange that such comments admitting that the government cannot do anything about drug trade in Goa come at a time when the Modi government has completed two years at the centre. The Anti-Narcotics Cell of the Goa Police should question Mandrekar now for he seems to know how the trade is being conducted,” Goa Congress secretary Durgadas Kamat told IANS.

(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at mayabhushan.n@ians.in)

–IANS

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