Panaji: Goa legislators get their salaries because of revenues earned by the state from the casino industry, ruling BJP legislator Kiran Kandolkar said on Wednesday, triggering an uproar in the assembly.
The legislator from Thivim constituency defended the Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government's decision not to ban casinos as promised by the party during the 2012 state assembly polls.
"All salaries of the MLAs come from that (casino revenue). Are you saying we do not get revenue? Where do you get your salary from?" he asked.
Kandolkar's comment triggered an outrage in the Opposition benches, with the Congress and Independent legislators accusing the BJP of tarnishing the sanctity of the legislature.
"How can you say this? This is not right," Congress legislator Reginaldo Lourenco said.
Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar said in the assembly on Wednesday that the revenue earned from the casino industry is Rs. 80 crore annually.
The salary and allowances of a first-time legislator is around Rs. 1 lakh per month, while that of senior legislator is around 1.25 lakh per month.
Goa has four operational offshore casinos parked in the Mandovi river off Panaji, which attract hundreds of thousands of gamblers to the state annually. Most of the offshore casinos were set up during the Congress' tenure in power in the state 2007-2012.
Ahead of the 2012 state assembly polls, the BJP, which had led a sustained campaign against the casino industry for several years, promised that if voted to power, its government would rid the river of the casinos.
However, after coming to power, then chief minister Manohar Parrikar and now his successor Parsekar have done a u-turn on the promise.
Parsekar also said earlier this month that doing away with casinos would send a wrong signal to future investors of casinos in Goa.