2 Minutes Read
The offshore casinos on River Mandovi have been an issue of debate in the political circles in Goa in recent years. While Congress, the chief opposition party in the state has made no bones about its anti-casino stand; Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar-led BJP government has found opposition coming in even from its own coalition quarters – the Goa Forward Party (GFP) in the past. The latest entrant in the anti-casino fracas is the newly-launched women`s wing of GFP.
On Sunday the just-announced Goa Women Forward (GWF), i.e. the GFP women wing demanded that casinos moored on River Mandovi should be removed at the earliest since they were “affecting women.”
According to media reports, right after she assumed the chair, GWF chief, Advocate Ashma Sayed took the casino issue by the horns.
“As a woman and on behalf of other women, I feel that casinos are very much affecting the women,” Sayed was quoted as saying. “Our demand as Goa Women forward is that casinos should be out of River Mandovi. They should be removed,” she added.
GWP Chief Ashma Sayed with other members
Sayed also demanded that to generate more employment for women, they should be given contracts for cleaning beaches. “The beach cleaning work should be given to the Goan women. I think that they will be very happy as it will give them source of income,” Sayed said.
Notably, led by Vijai Sardesai, the GFP came to existence in January 2016 and is an ally of the BJP government in Goa. The party has been vocal about its opposition to offshore casinos in the past. In July 2017, the GFP opposed the entry of the sixth casino vessel, MV Lucky Seven into River Mandovi.
Sardesai, who was then the state Town and Country Planning Minister made his stand public, charging that the state government was tamely giving in before the casino’s promoters in court. Several ministers, he had pointed out, were against allowing another casino operating on the Mandovi.
This year in August, after CM Parrikar unveiled plans for relocation of the offshore casinos to a designated gaming zone as part of the new casino policy in the state legislative assembly, Sardesai, who is now the state Agriculture Minister, came out in support of the plan.
In November, Sardesai suggested that a casino strip emulating the design of the Hong-Kong bay should be developed along the coastline in Panaji and all the offshore casinos operating from vessels moored on river Mandovi be disbanded and relocated to this casino strip.
The state government is reported to be mulling over various options for the planned casino relocation. With the GFP’s women wing raking up the offshore-casino issue again, the government’s coalition partner seems to be determined to up the pressure on the issue.