Goa casino promoters ‘infiltrating’ poll rolls: Minister

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Panaji, March 31 (IANS) Casino promoters in Goa are trying to “infiltrate and influence” Lok Sabha elections by mass enrolling casino employees into electoral rolls in order to influence government policy on the casino industry in the future, Goa’s Revenue and IT Minister Rohan Khaunte said on Sunday.

Speaking to IANS on Sunday, a day after he filed a complaint about the alleged “malpractice” with the state Chief Electoral Officer, Khaunte said that the top poll authority should probe all areas where casino clusters exist to check if casino employees, especially those from the northeastern states, were being enrolled en masse into the state electoral rolls.

“I have already filed a complaint with the Chief Electoral Officer after I found 820 names of casino employees in my constituency of Porvorim. All the new additions have been routed through one internet protocol (IP) address,” Khaunte told IANS.

“The mass enrolment is aimed to infiltrate and influence” Lok Sabha and other elections in order to select politician who are favourable to the casino lobby. The probe should also include other areas in Goa where there are casino operations existing,” Khaunte said quoting his complaint to the top poll official, demanding a probe.

There are currently seven offshore casinos anchored in the Mandovi river and nine onshore casinos operating from the various five star resorts which dot the coastal state.

Goa’s two main political parties, the Congress and BJP, have a chequered history as far as their respective disposition towards the casino industry is concerned.

When in the opposition from 2007-2012, the BJP had vociferously opposed casino operations in Goa, most of the licences for which had been granted by Congress-led coalition governments. Top BJP leaders, including the late Chief MInister Manohar Parrikar, on several occasions had promised to close down the offshore casino industry once the party assumed power in the coastal state.

Once the BJP rode to power in 2012, however, the Congress in turn accused the saffron party for being in cahoots with the casino lobby, especially after successive led coalition governments headed by the BJP failed to close down offshore casino operations.

–IANS

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