Why Portuguese nationality of Goans is an election issue

GOANEWS DESK, PANAJI | 10 June 2016 21:33 IST

After medium of instruction, dual citizenship is becoming an election issue of Goa; both targeted largely at Goan minorities – the Christians.

While the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is on offensive by taking up both the issues through Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch, its political outfit and ruling party – the Bharatiya Janata Party – is on the opposite side,  along with opposition Congress.

Both - the BJP and the Congress – are in fact trying to woo the minorities by showing complete sympathy to ‘Portuguese Goans.’

The Narendra Modi government at the centre has thus decided to set up an Authority in Goa to take up the issue on case-to-case basis in order to give a chance to the ‘Portuguese Goans’ to become Indian citizens.

While BBSM leader and freedom fighter Nagesh Karmali has demanded that Portuguese Consulate in Goa be closed down, BJP’s senior alliance partner – the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party – has demanded that Consulate be shifted to New Delhi.

But chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar has rejected both the demands.

“Shutting down or shifting the Consulate will not resolve the issue of dual citizenship. Persuading Goans from not opting for Portuguese citizenship is the real solution to the problem”, he said.

When this issue was brought to the notice of the central government, defence minister Manohar Parrikar – when he was Goa’s chief minister – had said that around 40,000 Goans have taken Portuguese passport.

He had also stated that almost 4 lakh Goans have registered their birth at the Central Registry in Lisbon, based on which they had obtained Bill of Identity, which could help them travel to UK and other European countries to take up jobs.

In both the cases, they become Portuguese citizens, thus losing Indian citizenship as India does not allow dual citizenship like Portugal.

As a result, the ‘Portuguese Goans’ lose their voting right as well as all other rights as citizens of India.

 

The figure of 4 lakh is little more than 3.75 lakh Christian population of 15 lakh-strong Goa.

According to Congress MP Shantaram Naik, the Election Commission of India had already dropped 32,000 names from Goa’s electoral roll while 80,000 more are on its radar.

Most of these belong to the Christian community while the number of Hindus and Muslims is also not small.

But large chunk of it comes from the politically influential minority-dominated coastal talukas of Salcete, Mormugao, Tiswadi and Bardez.

These four talukas consist of 24 Assembly constituencies, more than half of the total 40 seats in Goa Assembly.

As the BJP has realised that it cannot come to power without the help of these four talukas, the saffron brigade is presently busy protecting these votes not getting deleted from the electoral roll.

Congress MP Naik in fact has taken a step ahead, demanding that Modi government should amend the provisions of Indian Citizenship Act, in order to give relief to the Goans registered their birth in Portugal.

Deputy speaker Vishnu Wagh, on the other hand, has urged the centre to devise a provision like Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) so that they can travel to Europe for jobs without losing Indian citizenship.

The BJP MLA from St Andre has urged the centre to look at it as economic issue rather than citizenship issue since none of these ‘Portuguese Goans’ are interested in Portugal or losing Indian citizenship.

It thus needs to be seen what via media the ruling BJP, both in Goa and New Delhi, comes out with so that they can gain out of it ‘politically’ before the eight-month-away Assembly election. 

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Previous Comments

For India whole world is our family. You can become citizen of any country but rules of the place you have to follow and you can't ask the country to change the law for you.laws are ment for smooth functioning of society and if individual want changes he can go for Raj yoga which will change self and in the processes things around you changes.

- Rajesh velingkar, Panaji | 11 th July 2016 10:47

 

To those freedom fighters who recently came out from their hibernation....think there is a Brexit Referendum on the 23rd of June here in the UK. Who is allowed to vote in it? Is it the Portuguese passport holders or their Indian Family members.... UK does not give right for EU Member to vote but they do give right for COMMON WEALTH National of which India is a part. So why don,t all of you demand the British Government to NOT give a voting right for Indians in the UK. This is the reason the Developed countries took advantage of India. USA and UK give dual citizenship but as soon any Indian acquire any other nationality they need to surrender their Indian nationality. If the Indians were allowed Dual citizenship then some of the money Earned would have come to India from those Citizens holding Dual citizenship.

- Michael, London | 11 th June 2016 23:27

 

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