Politics

Amit Shah’s Party Meeting Inside Goa Airport Attracts Criticism and Complaints

BJP president Amit Shah addressing party workers at Goa airport on Saturday. Credit: BJP Goa publicity

Panaji: Probably for the first time ever, a political meeting was held in the high security precincts of an airport when the Goa BJP organised a welcome reception for party president Amit Shah on Saturday morning.

When Shah arrived in Goa on Saturday morning, those in the party wanting to get on the right side of the BJP’s national president by flattering him with a huge welcome literally rolled out the red carpet for him at Dabolim, where contrary to regulations, Shah was allowed to address a meeting of party workers inside the airport. The civilian airport functions within the naval air base.

A carpeted podium, a dozen chairs for the ‘dignitaries’ and a sound system with a lectern were all set up at the entrance to the Dabolim airport terminal before Shah’s 11.15 a.m. arrival even as security looked the other way. No such meeting had been announced on the schedule of Shah’s visit provided to journalists.

On hand to welcome Shah were chief minister Manohar Parrikar, Union minister Sripad Naik, local party chief Vinay Tendulkar and minister Mauvin Godinho among others. A crowd had been bussed in to attend the meeting.

Activist lawyer Aires Rodrigues pointed out passengers being dropped or picked up from the Goa airport are not allowed even a five minutes halt. “On Saturday everything came to a standstill at the Dabolim airport to allow the Shah meeting,” Officials of the Airports Authority of India had a lot to answer for, for their complicity in allowing a political meeting to take place right within the premises of an airport, that too, one that is part of a defence establishment, he said.

On Sunday, Rodrigues filed a complaint with the Civil Aviation ministry, chief secretary of Goa and the Director General of Police demanding that action be taken against the organisers. “This is probably the first time a political meeting has taken place within the precincts of an airport anywhere in the country,” he said. Congress MP Shantaram Naik too issued a statement against the holding of the meeting.

The Congress said the BJP’s public meeting within the Goa airport premises was unprecedented in the country. “This is a complete abuse of power. The airport authority officials who allowed this meeting should be booked,” Congress spokesman Girish Chodankar said.

On a two day visit to Goa, Shah met with newly elected panchas and sarpanchas here and had an interaction with businessmen and professionals later in the evening. He is scheduled to open a BJP office in South Goa on Sunday. In his speech he declared that the introduction of GST was the most important tax reform since independence and would create one big market.

This story has been updated to incorporate details of the complaints filed about the political meeting