BJP Minister’s jibe at ex-Navy captain & rival stirs controversy; Congress demands apology

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Transport Minister and sitting BJP MLA Mauvin Godinho’s comments against his Congress rival and former Indian Navy Captain Viriato Fernandes have stirred controversy in poll-bound Goa, with the Congress on Saturday demanding an apology from Godinho or a reprimand of its candidate by the BJP.

Addressing a press conference in Panaji, the All India Congress Committee official in-charge of Goa Dinesh Gundu Rao said that Godinho, through his comments against Fernandes, had insulted the Indian armed forces and its serving personnel.

“It was a completely unwarranted, unprovoked attack and the statement that Mauvin Godinho has made on our candidate Captain Viriato reflects his mindset and the pretence that the BJP has about being a nationalistic party. Making such low, cheap remarks about a candidate and indirectly also in a way insulting people who have served, are serving the nation and who have sacrificed their lives and wear their uniform with great pride,” Rao told reporters.

On Thursday, Godinho had said that Fernandes only claimed that he was a “big soldier”, while in reality he was posted at a defence canteen selling alcohol among other goods at subsidised rates.

“Tell me something, when someone who claims he is a big soldier works in the navy, will the navy post him to a canteen to look after it? He was posted to a canteen where goods are sold at a concessional rate. Items including alcohol are sold there at a concessional rate. All you have to do is hand it out to people. This is what he has done,” Godinho had told reporters in his Assembly constituency of Dabolim in South Goa.

“And he claims he was in defence. In the Kargil war our jawans put their life on their line. Has he ever put his life at risk? He was a safe player… I have never seen a person as selfish as this person,” the BJP candidate had also said.The Congress has however insisted that Mauvin’s comments were derogatory, both against Fernandes as well as the institution of the armed forces.

“Making such remarks is completely unacceptable, condemnable and I am hoping that the BJP will take serious action and objection on this person, because someone who can insult a person who has worked for the country in the defence forces. He (Fernandes) has been a captain in the navy and calling him someone who works in a canteen and doing small time work is insulting his service,” Rao said.

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