Anti-casino front plans state-wide stir

| 27 December 1996 23:26 IST

The anti-casino war is heating up in Goa with all the political parties, joining hands with the local NGOs, planning a protest rally on December 6, when Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda would visit the state for the first time to inaugurate the Vth International Energy Conference.

The anti-casino forum would start public meetings in all the major towns of the state from tomorrow for mobilisation, which would ultimately culminate into the protest rally in Margao, the South Goa district town.

Meanwhile, the local church authorities have also opposed setting up of offshore casinos in the state, describing it as a 'cultural invasion'. The local priests are gathering signatures from the community on a memorandum, which would be submitted to the President of India.

The stand taken by the local church has a significance as most of the casinos are likely to come up in the coastal area of the state, dominated by the Catholic community, which is already engulfed in the five star hotel culture here.

The anti-casino forum has widened its scope now with several political parties joining hands with it. The state BJP unit, which had earlier started a state-wise signature campaign, also joined the front this week at the all-party meet convened by Dr Jalmi. Gomant Lok Pokx, a regional outfit, as well as local units of CPI, CPM, Janata Dal and BSP have also come out openly in support of the anti-casino movement begun in the state. Most interesting is the volte face by the United Goans Democratic Party (UGDP), led by South Goa MP Churchill Alemao, which has volunteered to support the movement, realising the public mood.

While Mr Alemao had demanded to set up fullfledged on-shore casinos, his party had fully backed the ruling Congress party on the floor of the House while passing the amendment bill to the Goa Public Gambling Act, allowing offshore casinos.

The opposition MLAs are also planning actions for public pressure on ruling party MLAs, after which they are planning to rock the House during the Assembly session beginning from December 16. is now on Telegram & also Youtube. Kindly subscribe for free & remain updated.

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