Congress taunts Goa minister: Meet ailing Parrikar during US ‘junket’

Panaji: Taunting Goa Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar, whose official tour to the US along with at least four family members, has triggered controversy, the Congress on Thursday said he should at least meet ailing Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who is currently undergoing treatment in the US.

“Since Ajgaonkar has gone on a junket to the US with family members along with some Tourism Ministry officials, he should at least call on our ailing Chief Minister and enquire after his health, considering that no one in Goa has been formally informed about the state of our Chief Minister’s health,” state Congress leader Urfan Mulla said.

Parrikar has been taking advanced treatment for pancreatic cancer at a New York hospital since March this year.

Amarnath Panjikar, also a Congress spokesperson, addressing a press conference said it was unfair that the minister was travelling to the US with family members at a time when the state was reeling under a financial crisis, especially with the mining industry non-functional since March this year following directives from the Supreme Court.

“Ajgaonkar has gone to the US with four members of his family. The government should exact the cost incurred on the travel and stay of the family members, once he returns,” Panjikar said.

According to the state Tourism Ministry, Ajgaonkar, an MLA from the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, is in the US to participate in tourism promotion roadshows, ostensibly with the aim of increasing the inflow of tourists from the US to India.

While Ajgaonkar was not available for comment, senior MGP leader and Public Works Development Minister Sudin Dhavalikar said Ajgaonkar should pay for the cost incurred on the travel and stay of his relatives during the US trip.

“There is nothing wrong with family travelling on such trips, as long as the minister pays for the expense and state funds are not used. The Tourism Department can recover the amount from the minister,” Dhavalikar told reporters.