Sports Minister Ramesh Tawadkar to withdraw from the tour; five other MLAs to go ahead with the tour on their own expense

The Goa government on Friday cancelled the Brazil study tour of six legislators, including three Ministers, “bowing before public sentiment”.

“We have cancelled the official tour of MLAs to Brazil, bowing before public sentiment,” Goa Sports Minister Ramesh Tawadkar said adding that he's withdrawing from the tour.

Following the announcement, two Ministers and three MLAs said they would go ahead with the tour, but at their own cost.

Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had faced flak from the Opposition Congress and the media for the last couple of days over his government’s approval of the tour of the six MLAs to Brazil, at a cost of Rs. 89 lakh to the exchequer.

Independent MLA and Minister for Fisheries Avertano Furtado came out in the open on Friday announcing that they will spend their own money on the tour.

“It is good that they have relented,” said Goa Congress president John Fernandes on Friday. “That is not the way lakhs and lakhs of rupees from public money should be spent,” said Mr. Fernandes whose party had already emailed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his intervention to stop this “wastage of public money on a junket by BJP and alliance legislators”.

As the controversy gathered momentum in the electronic media and social media, Mr. Parrikar tried some damage control saying the tour was to study the infrastructure and mechanism to help prepare Goa for the 2017 Under-17 World Cup.

Goa, he said, will be constructing two more stadiums as part of the preparations. The study team has been asked to study the infrastructure aspects of such an international mega event.

As his defence of the tour, saying the decision was taken in the interest of the State and it being an extension of Lusofonia Games held recently in Goa where Brazil was a participating country, failed to cut ice with opponents, the government decided to cancel the tour on Friday, ostensibly to avoid any possible embarrassment to the Prime Minister on his maiden visit of the State on Saturday.

(With PTI inputs)