Portuguese PM must apologize, says Goa parties

Panaji, Jan 9 (IANS) Political parties in Goa on Monday demanded an apology from Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa for atrocities committed when the state was a Portuguese colony.

They also took on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and accused it of using Costa’s visit to woo Goa’s Christian minority votes ahead of the coming assembly elections.

While the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party demanded that the Portuguese consulate be shifted out of Goa, its ally the Goa Suraksha Manch accused the BJP in Goa as well as the Centre of shedding their “nationalistic cloak” for petty political gain.

“He (Costa) should first apologise to Goans for all the hardships and atrocities Portugal committed in Goa while they were ruling,” MGP’s Chief Ministerial candidate and former PWD Minister Sudin Dhavalikar said.

“The amount of destruction they did 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 Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa, who was 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 Minister also said the reason why Goans were seeking a Portuguese passport was 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,” he said.

Goa was one of Portugal’s oldest colonies and was 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 the two-day visit of Costa to Goa was 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 the mentor of the Goa Suraksha Manch, which has been critical of the ruling BJP over its policy over the patronage of 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, the BJP in Goa as well as at the Centre have shed their nationalistic cloak,” he said.

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

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