Goans thrilled for Costa as Portuguese PM, but does he feel Goan?

GOANEWS DESK, PANAJI | 26 November 2015 16:26 IST

Goans at large are feeling proud that a Goan by origin will be the Prime Minister of Portugal, the one-time colonial rulers who ruled Goa for 451 years. But does Antonio Costa feel the same?

“It’s definitely a matter of pride for all of us. I hope he also feels the same about Goa”, says Dr Wilfred Mesquita, the NRI Commissioner of Goa.

54-year old Costa, also known as Gandhi of Lisbon, will be sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Portugal tonight.

Goans all over the world were thrilled from the time news broke on 10 November that ‘Babush’ of Goan origin (Antonio Costa) will be the new PM, ending 11-day regime of Pedro Passos Coelho.

Costa, the Socialist Party leader in Portugal, is son of a Goan poet Orlando Costa, who was born in Mozambique - also a Portuguese colony, but spent most of his youth in Goa. Antonio's grandfather, Luis Afonso Maria da Costa, hailed from Goa.

Antonio’s father Orlando was also member of Portuguese Communist Party and was active in the nationalist movement across the colonies in post-World War II era.

The Costas have a 150-year old ancestral house on Abe de Faria road in Margao, where his paternal aunty and first cousins live.

Adv Ramakant Khalap, former law minister of India and one-time firebrand politician of Goa, looks at the development in a typical Goan way while congratulating Antonio Costa.

“Destiny perhaps has taken revenge. The ruled has become the ruler. Great day for Goans. Let's rejoice and pray that Antonio Costa's Premiership lasts long and many more Goans follow in his footsteps to become world leaders in their chosen fields," Khalap posted his comment on WhatsApp.

A Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party leader earlier, Khalap is today a spokesperson of the opposition Congress in Goa.

Dr Mesquita, who is the vice president of Goa’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, also feels that Costa becoming PM of Portugal could be a motivation to other expats spread all over the world.

However, he is not sure if Costa feels ‘Goan.’

“He had received us as the Mayor of Lisbon when a huge delegation of Goans had gone for an Indo-Portuguese Festival in 2012. He did not show the inclination of being a Goan when he met us”, recalls Mesquita.

According to him, the particular chemistry, which we normally witness when fellow countrymen living in different parts of the world meet, was completely missing in him.

“I would be more happy if our feelings as Goans are reciprocated by Costa”, opined Dr Mesquita.

BACKGROUND

Born on 17 July 1961 in Mozambique, five months before Goa was liberated, Costa is a Portuguese lawyer and the 119th Prime Minister of Portugal.

He was a Mayor of Lisbon thrice, since 2007 and had earlier served as Minister of Internal Administration.

He was then elected as Secretary General of the Socialist Party in September last year and tipped to be the PM if the party gets majority.

However, Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho was reinstated again as the PM on 30 October, as a single largest party, though he could not garner majority in the 230-member Portuguese Parliament.

Winning only 107 seats in the election held in the first week of October, Coelho’s Forward Portugal could not manage to win over nine members on his side to retain his government.

Taking advantage of a hung Parliament, Costa’s Socialist Party (PS) struck a deal with its arch rivals – the radical Left Block, Communist Party and the Greens to establish a majority of 122.

Coelho’s Forward Portugal had come to power in 2011 as the Socialist party (PS) had lost vote when the Parliament rejected former PM Jose Socrates’ austerity budget, drafted during economic crisis under the pressure of International Monetary Fund.

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