Kannadiga versus Goan row: Goa BJP responds to 'threat'

Panaji: A day after a senior Karnataka minister issued a threat against several thousand Goan IT professionals living in Bengaluru, the Goa BJP on Friday replied in equal measure, saying that Goa, too, hosted many Kannadigas who were working in the government and private sector.

The comments were made by Bharatiya Janata Party's Goa spokesperson Damodar Naik after the alleged inflammatory speeches made by Karnataka's Higher Education Minister R.V. Deshpande over demolition of illegal shanties in the Baina area in south Goa.

Some of the shanties house Kannadigas and the minister's subtle warning threatened several thousand Goan IT professionals living in Bengaluru. "He should be arrested immediately and externed for making such statements," BJP spokesperson Damodar Naik told reporters at a press conference at the BJP state headquarters on Friday.

He also claimed that Deshpande should know that there are many Kannadigas who had made Goa their home and were living peacefully. "Do not misunderstand my statement, but there are many of them (Kannadigas) living in Goa in their own homes and working in the private and government sector," Naik said.

On Thursday, Deshpande had accused the BJP-led Goa government of trampling on the rights of some Kannadiga occupants of the over 285 illegal shanties, some of which have already been demolished and also warned that Goa should not forget that 20,000 odd of its young workforce are employed in the information technology sector in Bengaluru.

"Your 15,000 to 20,000 young Goans are working as IT professionals in Bengaluru... don't ask any irresponsible questions," Deshpande said aggressively, when asked by the media about the emerging differences between Karnataka and Goa.

Disagreements first arose over the alleged diversion of the Mhadei river water by the former and now over the demolition of shanties at Baina, located 45 km from Panaji. Deshpande was speaking to reporters outside the chief minister's residence in Panaji, where he had arrived to speak to Goa chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar on the demolition issue.

Speaking to reporters later, Parsekar expressed shock at Deshpande's statement and said that the latter should not attempt to convert the issue into a Karnataka versus Goa affair, simply because there were people from several other states, including Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Maharashtra living in the same slum.

"Our people, whether they are in Bengaluru, Pune or Mumbai, have not encroached there, like (the encroachments) in Goa. They are well settled," Parsekar said, adding that politicians should desist from making inflammatory speeches.

"Even those people living in the slums are not from Karnataka alone. They are from Maharashtra, Bihar, Andhra (Pradesh), Chhattisgarh, but the law of the land applies to everyone. Therefore, please do not bring politics to this," said Parsekar.

When asked if the BJP unit in Goa would file a first information report against Deshpande, Naik said: "We have asked the Goa government to take the strongest possible action... if the inflammatory statements continue we will..."

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