The opposition on Thursday came down heavily on the Goa government's decision to organise a Rs 89 lakh junket for six ruling legislators, including three ministers, to witness the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Goa's top football player and Arjuna award-winner Bruno Coutinho was disappointed as his name was dropped from the list in favour of a politician, even as ruling MLA Benjamin Silva put the onus on sports minister Ramesh Tawadkar and chief minister Manohar Parrikar for the decision to include only legislators on the junket.
“On one hand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been openly advocating not to misuse public funds, but his party's chief minister in Goa has contradicted Modi's view by approving a junket for his MLAs,” Congress spokesperson Durgadas Kamat said.
Tawadkar, fisheries minister Avertano Furtado, power minister Milind Naik and MLAs Carlos Almeida, Glen Ticlo (both from the BJP) and Benjamin Silva (Independent MLA supporting the state government) are part of the Goa government's junket which leaves for Brazil on July 1 to watch the quarter-finals and semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup.
Financial sanction for the group, which includes neither officials, nor players or sports administrators was accorded first by the sports minister and subsequently by Parrikar himself, officials said.
“Parrikar should scrap the names of these ministers and MLAs and include some sports administrator or our Goan football stars who have and can bring value back home from an outing like this,” Kamat said.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Goa too has criticised the junket.
"This (is) our own fault for trusting this CM (chief minister) and the party to do the right things. What a disgrace!" AAP's Valmiki Naik has posted on the party's official Facebook group.
Former Indian skipper and Sports Authority of Goa's Joint Director (training) Bruno Coutinho said he was shocked and hurt because his name was first included in the list and was later dropped.
"My name was there, but when the sports minister cleared the file, he did not put my name. I am hurt a bit. I am a football player. I was an India captain," Coutinho said.
While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has not come on record on the issue, Silva, one of those on the junket said the file was cleared by the chief minister himself.
"The chief minister told us to go to Brazil and take a look," he said. Responding to a query on public funds being used for the junket, Silva said: "Public funds are used for everything."
The Goa government is currently facing a fiscal crisis because of more than one-year-long mining ban. While the ban was removed only a couple of months back, mining has still not resumed in the state.