New offshore casino in Goa violates EC code: NSUI

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Panaji, March 23 (IANS) In a complaint to the Election Commission, the NSUI, students wing of the Congress, has alleged that the BJP-led coalition government in Goa has permitted a new casino vessel to operate with an aim to garner funds for general elections and three Assembly by-elections.

The complaint by National Students Union of India President Ahraz Mulla states the permission granted to the casino on March 13 was in violation of the model code of conduct, which came into force on March 10.

“We feel the casino is nothing, but the ‘big daddy’ of the BJP, which will help it fund elections, as the vessel has been brought after the election code of conduct came into force,” the complaint reads.

The vessel, which hosts one of the biggest offshore casinos in Goa, had hit the state’s coastline earlier this month, amid criticism from the Opposition, which claimed the BJP was promoting casino culture in the coastal state.

“The casino, which arrived in the Mandovi river in Goa on March 13, raises questions as how the permission was granted to the vessel when the election code of conduct has been in force from March 10,” Mulla said.

There are now seven offshore casinos anchored in the Mandovi river, and nine onshore casinos that operate in the coastal resorts.

Goa’s two main political parties, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have a chequered history of disposition towards the casino industry.

When in the opposition from 2007-2012, the BJP had opposed casino operations in the state, most of the licences for which had been granted by the Congress-led coalition governments.

Top BJP leaders, including Parrikar, on several occasions had promised to shut the offshore casino industry on coming to power.

Once the BJP came to power in 2012, the Congress started accusing the saffron party of being in cahoots with the casino lobby, especially after successive coalition governments led by the BJP failed to shut offshore casinos.

–IANS

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