PANAJI: Goa Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar has stoked a controversy by saying "ghatis" need not come to the state for work and that Goans would be given preference in jobs.
In the coastal state, "ghati" is typically used in Marathi and Konkani languages to address migrant blue collar workers, specially those from neighbouring Maharashtra.
Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, the minister was quick to add that 'ghati' was not a derogatory word.
Speaking about the tendering process of a beach cleaning contract being initiated by his ministry, Ajgaonkar said, "Whoever wins the main tender (for beach cleanliness), that person will do the work... preference would be given only to Goans first and outsiders - ghatis - cannot come in."
When some mediapersons pointed out that he had used the term ghati, the minister said, "Ghati is not a bad word.
Ghati means a person staying in the ghats (mountains)."
Ajgaonkar had in 2017 stirred a row with his remarks that "lamanis", members of a nomadic tribe from adjoining Karnataka, were creating nuisance on Goa's beaches, evoking criticism from the tribe leaders.