Meghalaya Indian National Congress president and Lok Sabha member from Shillong Vincent H Pala on Saturday demanded the repeal of Meghalaya Regulation Gaming Act 2021 and the corresponding rules amid similar demands from all quarters. Meghalaya has two Lok Sabha seats of which one is held by the Congress.
Meghalaya assembly held a long discussion in the recently concluded assembly session. James K Sangma, Minister in charge of taxation during the discussion said that the physical gaming premises are not meant for the local population and are exclusively meant for high-worth individuals (Indians and foreigners).
Pala’s statement comes a day after Chief Minister Conrad Sangma ruled out scrapping of his ambitious enactment. The Lok Sabha member said if the legislation is not scrapped, the leaders of the ruling MDA coalition will be on the streets and the public in the assembly.
“The government has to withdraw (the Act) otherwise the coalition will be in the street and the public will be in the Assembly one day,” he said, while recalling that even church leaders have openly registered their opposition, reported Shillong Times.
“Almost every society church and organisation is opposed to it. The government is in a hurry to pass and the chief minister very enthusiastically said that I am the leader of the gambling committee,” he added.
Referring to James Sangma’ statement in the assembly, Pala argued that the notion of more tourist flow is misplaced, while reasoning that there are no facilities due to ‘rampant corruption’.
Asked if the move will ensure added revenue for the state, he was of the opinion that revenue is being generated through various natural resources like coal and limestone but it goes to the pockets of a certain selected ones.
“If they are not getting revenue from all the resources what revenue will they generate from gambling? Have they put in the public domain or given any blueprint,” he questioned.
“I don’t think the people will allow it and if the public is not happy what revenue will they generate,” he remarked according to reports.
Asked to comment on the issue turning into a political agenda in view of the Assembly polls next year, Pala said there has always been opposition to the decision concerning legalised gambling, adding that it is not the first time.