Rohan Khaunte, the Information Technology, Labour and Revenue Minister of Goa has stated that around 820 casino employees of the Pride Group were enrolled as voters in the Porvorim constituency at the behest of the casino lobby.
Khaunte, a two term independent MLA from the Porvorim area claimed that voters from Mizoram, Manipur and even Nepal were added on the voter list in his constituency illegally, since they were also registered as voters in their home state.
He filed a complaint with the Chief Electoral Officer of Goa seeking deletion of the names of the migrant casino employees. He stated that the casino employees were enrolled from the same IP address at the behest of Pride Group Managing Director Shrinivas Nayak.
Khaunte further alleged that Nayak harbours political ambitions and wishes to contest elections in Goa, due to which he is creating his own vote bank by adding his employees to the voting list.
Shrinivas Nayak while speaking to Times of India however denied Khaunte’s allegations and stated that he does not have any political ambitions and was merely conducting a voters’ awareness drive for his employees.
Most employees who had filed their voter registrations in Goa however seem to have now given a written affidavit to the mamlatdar’s office seeking deletion of their names from the voting rolls.
In a related development, Not for Profit Organisation Rising Goans has stated that it will be holding a Mashaal (Flame Torch) rally in Goa to protest against offshore casinos in the state on 13th April. The body members would gather at Azad Maidan in Panaji and march to the offshore casinos with mashaals to mark their protest against casinos operating in the state,
The group accused successive state governments of increasing the number of offshore casinos in the Mandovi river and claimed that the lure of gambling has destroyed many families.
The not for profit president Shailendra Velingkar has also claimed that the government has neither kept its promise of appointing a Gaming Commissioner and barring Goans from playing in the casinos nor come up with a comprehensive Casino Policy to regulate the industry.