Panaji, May 7: If Manohar Parrikar targets the Congress with the "Behti Ganga" barb in the AgustaWestland scam, the Grand Old Party cannot let him forget Goa's River Mandovi.
The Congress in Goa has now targeted Union Defence Minister Parrikar, saying he too washed his hands in Mandovi waters by failing to remove the river casinos when he was the state's chief minister.
The Congress charge was led by party secretary Durgadas Kamat, who on Saturday said even though the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in the state promising to rid the river of the offshore casinos, it did nothing after assuming office in 2012.
Rather, Kamat alleged, permissions for a new casino and a floating hotel run by a casino operator were granted.
In other words, be it Parrikar when he was the Goa chief minister or the current incumbent Laxmikant Parsekar, both didn't keep their election promise, Kamat said in an issued statement.
"It was BJP and Parrikar himself, who promised the citizens of Goa that the moment BJP comes to power offshore casinos would be removed from the Mandovi river. Instead of doing that, a new casino and a floating hotel run by a casino operator has been given permission. It is quite visible who has washed their hands in the Mandovi river," the statement read.
In the run-up to the 2012 state assembly election, Parrikar and the BJP cited moral corruption and promised to rid the Mandovi, one of the two main rivers in Goa, which flows along Panaji, of the offshore casinos which are berthed in it.
But that promise didn't materialise.
The Congress as well as civil society activists are now accusing the BJP of being close to the casino lobby and have attacked the party for granting permission to a bigger casino vessel.
Currently, there are four operational offshore casinos in the Mandovi, apart from a dozen-odd casinos operating from the various five-star resorts in the state.
On Friday, Parrikar, while replying to a debate on the AgustaWestland, had said that people in power during the previous United Progressive Alliance regime, had washed their hands in the flowing waters of the Ganga ("behti Ganga") of corruption to favour the VVIP chopper deal, which is now being probed as a multi-million dollar scam.