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Dy Speaker moves in to save red-faced govt

Panjim: Remarks by ministers of its coalition partners over drug-laced parties, prostitution and Lamanis on beaches has put Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar in a tight spot as he also holds the Home portfolio.While the BJP Goa Unit has distanced itself from the controversial statements by the two ministers – Manohar (Babu) Azgaonkar and Vinod Paliencar – Deputy Speaker Michael Lobo has denied any illegality and apologised to the nomadic tribe (Lamanis) on behalf of Azgaonkar.Sources said that Parrikar, who has been silent on the issue, is likely to call a meeting with the duo as their media statements have left the government red-faced. “CM might meet Azgaonkar and Paliencar to discuss the issue. Their intentions may not be to question his (Parrikar) competence but it has embarrassed the government,” a party leader said.
Azgaonkar had recently proposed reviving the defunct Tourism Squads to crackdown on Lamanis, hawkers, drug peddling and prostitution along the beaches, which had been objected to by the All Goa Banjara Samaj who demanded an apology from the minister. While Azgaonkar refused to apologise, the Deputy Speaker has come forward to calm down the situation.Addressing the media on Tuesday, Lobo said, “I spoke to him (Azgaonkar) that it is a mistake on his part to call the community Lamanis. They are hawkers. If any tribe is hurt, I am sorry. On behalf of my minister too, I apologise.” He, however, backed the move to ban illegal hawkers.Similarly, Paliencar’s demand for a complete ban on late night rave parties has also offended the government’s tall claims on ‘zero-tolerance to drugs, corruption’. He had also alleged that police were turning a blind eye to such parties which are against Goan culture.
Lobo, representing Calangute, denied there are rave parties but supported music parties and proposed a special zone where music can be played. He also took a pot shot at Paliencar asking him to submit names of individuals involved in the illegal activity.“Rave parties are not happening in Goa. Music is a part of Goan culture and it is played at required decibels,” he said clarifying that his constituency has no drug culture.“It (rave parties) might be in some parts of his constituency. Before being elected as MLA in my last tenure, presence of drugs was there but I submitted a list of names of people who were involved in the racket, and the police acted on it. Nothing will happen by only speaking out. Give names to the chief minister and the police to act. There is law to support us. I will help him (Paliencar),” he added.On the issue of prostitution, he conceded that new kingpins enter the ring despite the crackdown. “People giving their premises on rent should be cautious. We are here to promote Goa as a family and couple destination,” he stated. [H]

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