Portuguese PM must apologise, demand Goa parties

Panaji, Jan 9 (IANS) Two regional parties in Goa on Monday demanded an apology from Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa for the atrocities committed when the state was a Portuguese colony, but the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party opposed it.

While the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) demanded that the Portuguese consulate be shifted out of Goa, its ally — the Goa Suraksha Manch — accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of shedding their “nationalistic cloak” for petty political gains.

They accused the ruling BJP in the state of using Costa’s visit to woo Goa’s Christian minority ahead of the coming assembly elections.

“He (Costa) should first apologise to Goans for all the hardships and atrocities Portugal committed in Goa under their rule,” MGP’s chief ministerial candidate and former PWD Minister Sudin Dhavalikar said.

“The amount of destruction they caused while leaving Goa in 1961 by blowing up bridges and the mayhem they orchestrated is unforgivable,” Dhavalikar told the media.

His comments come a day ahead of the visit by the Portuguese Prime Minister, who is of Goan origin.

Dhavalikar, however, said the MGP would not protest against Costa’s visit because “he is a son of the soil visiting his home state”.

The former Minister also said that the reason why Goans are seeking a Portuguese passport is because of the presence of the consulate in the state and demanded that it be shifted.

“They are trying to lure our youth with the consulate. It should be shifted out of Goa immediately,” Dhavalikar said.

Goa was one of Portugal’s oldest colonies and liberated by the Indian Army in 1961.

After the liberation, all Goan natives were granted Indian citizenship by New Delhi.

Meanwhile, former Goa RSS Sanghachalak Subhash Velingkar told IANS that Costa’s two-day visit to Goa is being used by the BJP for political gain.

“The BJP is using the visit of the Portuguese Prime Minister to garner the minority vote,” Velingkar said, referring to the Christian community.

Velingkar is mentor of the Goa Suraksha Manch, which has been critical of the ruling BJP over its policy of patronising English as a medium of instruction in government-aided primary schools.

“The BJP should have been the first to demand an apology from the Portuguese head of state. But after coming to power, both in Goa as well as at the Centre, the party has shed its nationalistic cloak,” he said.

Velingkar, however, said the later generations of Portuguese are not responsible for the atrocities in Goa until 1961.

“We are demanding an apology from the Portuguese nation. We have nothing against the new generation in Portugal,” he added.

The Congress, however, said the call for apology by Velginkar is purely opportunistic.

“Before he was sacked as the RSS chief, Velingkar was advising the BJP. Why did he not then call for breaking off ties with Portugal?

“Just because there are elections and he was spurned by the BJP, he is raking up this non-issue now,” Congress spokesperson Trajano D’Mello told IANS.

The Aam Aadmi Party, too, said there is no reason to ask friendly nations for apologies for “bitter-sweet” histories.