The long-running debate on the future of casinos in the small Indian state of Goa intensified on Thursday as opposition lawmakers exchanged angry words with Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar before walking out of an official meeting where the issue was being discussed.
According to a report from the SME Times news service, Parsekar from Goa’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which has run the state of some 1.45 million people since March of 2012, used a debate on the affairs of the Home Department to accuse opposition legislators of trying to “misuse” the assembly over the issue of casinos.
“We won’t do what you say,” Parsekar reportedly told those assembled after being accused of supporting the casino industry. “We have been elected for five years to run the administration. Some [Members Of The Legislative Assembly] are misusing the Assembly for their own benefit.”
This prompted local independent legislator Naresh Sawal to demand that Parsekar name those he believed were guilty of such acts.
“You have to name the [Members Of The Legislative Assembly] who are misusing the assembly or else do not indulge in loose talk,” Sawal allegedly replied.
The altercation between Parsekar and Sawal then reportedly escalated before the former reportedly declared that he intended to visit the latter’s constituency and make public questionable business transactions between “certain casino owners and businessmen”.
“Just because we are listening, they think they can talk whatever they want and get away with it,” Sawal reportedly replied. “We will not take this lying down. Either you give us answers or we are going to go from here. We have no interest in your stories.”
With no acceptable answer forthcoming, local Indian National Congress opposition leader Pratapsing Rane led a group of angry legislators including Sawal out of the assembly while shouting anti-government slogans.
Casinos have been a controversial issue in Goa for many years and tensions that were already high due to the government permitting the opening of the nation’s largest onshore casino in December grew even more intense last month following its renewal of an offshore gambling license.