Goa tourism minister, Manohar Ajgaonkar inaugurated 'The Grape Escapade', a festival celebrating the finest of wines, food, fashion and entertainment on Thursday. "Goans can indulge in merriment because young soldiers of the Indian Army are guarding our borders," the minister said, after inaugurating the four-day event amid heightened tension between India and Pakistan.
"Our Army is never scared...and because they are there... we can sleep in peace... they have shown that Pakistan is nothing. No terrorist will enter India, and those who do will be punished," Mr Ajgaonkar told reporters in Panaji.
Tourists visiting Goa should drink the local alcoholic brew -- cashew feni -- rather than indulge in drugs, Mr Ajgaonkar said, and added that his government "does not want to introduce drugs because of EDM (Electronic Dance Music) festivals." The police have been instructed that there should not be any chaos. "Enjoy the music and drink cashew feni," Mr Ajgaonkar was quoted by news agency IANS.
The minister, in the BJP-led coalition government in Goa, faced strong criticism from opposition Congress in the state. The Congress questioned the state government's "patriotic credentials" for hosting a wine festival at a time when an Indian Air Force pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, was captured by the Pakistani forces.
The opposition has accused the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of focusing on politics and elections at a time when the government should be worried about the tension with Pakistan. Opposition parties, in a joint statement, after the Pulwama attack and Air Force jets targeting Jaish terror camp, "expressed deep anguish over the blatant politicisation of sacrifices made by the armed forces by leaders of the ruling party."
Union minister Prakash Javadekar and his cabinet colleague Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said that the opposition statement, hitting at the government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, would be good news for Pakistan.
(With inputs from IANS)