Panaji, April 2 (IANS) Claiming strong support from NRIs and OCIs, the Aam Adami Party (AAP) convenor of Goa Elvis Gomes here on Tuesday said a section of the populace in the former Lusophonian colony are Portuguese by birth and Indian by adoption, a fact that “nobody can take away from us”.
Gomes, contesting the South Goa Lok Sabha seat, said the AAP would seriously examine the issue of “dual citizenship”, which would enable Goan non-resident Indians (NRI) to identify more with the state of their origin.
“We have been saying that we have been Portuguese citizens by birth. Nobody can take it away from us. Those who were born, were born in a Portuguese land, before liberation. How can you take that away? They are Indians by adoption,” Gomes said, stating the case of Goa and its residents, generations of whom were born during the Portuguese rule, was unique.
“It’s a unique case. They were born in a Portuguese nation. They could not do anything about it and they are okay with that,” he said.
Goa was one of the oldest colonies of the Portugal and was liberated by the Indian forces in 1961, after 451 years of colonial rule. After the liberation, Goan natives were granted Indian citizenship via a common notification.
However, the departing Portuguese preferred not to snip the umbilical cord with it and allowed those living in Goa during the Portuguese regime to register their birth in Portugal and avail citizenship and Portuguese travel identity documents.
The privilege was later extended to two more generations.
Over the years nearly 200,000 Goans, a large chunk of them Christians in religious orientation, are estimated to have opted for a Portuguese citizenship and several thousand have continued to retain their Indian citizenship, creating a unique situation.
The South Goa Lok Sabha constituency, especially Assembly segments like Velim, Navelim, Nuvem, Benaulim, Curtorim and Cuncolim, comprises a sizeable Christian expat population for whom the issue is significant.
Gomes claims no political party had the will to address the dual citizenship issue, a demand of Goan expats, especially those who have migrated to Europe.
“I don’t think this kind of will is there among the traditional parties, which have been taking our votes and not even bothering to look into the issue. But the AAP will definitely examine this,” said Gomes who quit the government service to join the AAP ahead of the 2017 Assembly polls. The AAP failed to win a single seat in the elections.
The AAP leader said, “NRIs, OCIs (overseas citizens of India) have their roots and hearts here. They may be physically elsewhere, but feel the pain more than even Goans, when they hear about the state going downhill.”
Gomes takes on Narendra Sawaikar (BJP) and Francisco Sardinha (Congress). The state will go to polls on April 23.