On Tuesday, Bhartiya Janta Party’s (BJP) state unit president Vinay Tendulkar called for a shutdown of all offshore casinos in Goa. Tendulkar confirmed that he had requested the coalition government in the state to ban offshore casinos once their licenses expire.
Gambling is illegal in India; however, offshore casinos are legal in Goa while the north eastern state of Sikkim has separate gambling regulations in place.
Talking to the local press, Tendulkar said: “The party demands that offshore casinos should be shut. If people don’t want onshore casinos, which function from five-star hotels, they too will be closed.”
The state unit president of the BJP is also a member of the Rajya Sabha, the upper house in the Indian parliamentary system.
While the 2019 General elections are in its final stages in India, the ruling BJP is battling for a second term. The party lost its veteran leader Manohar Parrikar (ex-CM, Goa) just before the elections took off in April.
Tendulkar’s stand against casinos is also being seen to be politically motivated as the BJP is trying to appeal to its voters through promises which would resonate well with the right-wing loyalists in the state.
Panaji Assembly by-elections are to be held on May 19. Both the Congress and the Aam Aadmi party have fielded their candidates against BJP and have made similar promises to shut down offshore casinos in Goa.
Even when in government, BJP had opposed the offshore riverboat casinos in the Mandovi River. However, the BJP never delivered on its poll promise of shutting down the casinos despite being in power for two consecutive terms.
The previous Congress government also granted the offshore casinos license when in power between 2007-2012.
While the BJP had been alleging Congress government to be working on the payroll of the casino mafias in the coastal state, it is now the Congress party who have launched a campaign against BJP alleging connection with the gambling operators.