Considering BJP request to shut offshore casinos: Goa CM

Panaji, May 15 (IANS) With casinos emerging as a key issue in the Panaji bypoll, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Wednesday said that his government was considering a state BJP proposal to shut down offshore casinos operating in the coastal state.

"They have sent me a proposal. The government will consider it and then take a decision... I have not read the proposal in detail yet," Sawant told a press conference at the BJP state headquarters here on Wednesday.

The remark assumes significance as it comes days ahead of the May 19 bypoll in which three political parties, including the Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Goa Suraksha Manch have promised the closure of offshore casinos.

Not wanting to be left behind, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state President Vinay Tendulkar on Tuesday said that his party had, on popular demand, asked for closure of the seven offshore casinos, after their respective licences lapsed.

Tendulkar said that his party would also demand closure of nine onshore casinos, if there was popular demand for the same.

Goa's two main political parties, the Congress and the BJP have had a chequered history with the casino industry.

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

Once in power, the saffron party started backing the industry, saying that shutting it would disturb investor confidence and was not a feasible option.

--IANS

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