Panaji, Jan 15 (IANS) Goa Revenue Minister Francis D’Souza on Friday said government records show that the state’s port city Vasco da Gama was mentioned as Sambhaji in government notifications of 1971 and 2011.
His admission comes days after the BJP-led coalition government denied the city’s renaming after Maratha warrior king Chhattrapati Shivaji’s son Sambhaji.
“As per available records, the city’s name is mentioned as Sambhaji (Vasco-da-Gama) in the notification of 1971 and 2011,” the minister said in a written reply tabled during the ongoing monsoon session of the assembly.
D’Souza said “certain areas” in Mormugao taluka (sub-district) had already been named after Sambhaji as per a notification dated February 15, 1971, and “therefore the name Sambhaji (Vasco-da-Gama) has been printed on ration cards as per land revenue records”.
He was responding to Independent legislator Vijai Sardesai’s query whether the government had, at any time, named the city after Sambhaji, the eldest son of Chhatrapati Shivaji, the founder of the Maratha kingdom.
Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama is credited with the discovering a new sea route to India after he landed in Calicut in 1498. Sambhaji is a Maratha hero credited with his battles against Muslim rulers of the Deccan region and Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.
Last month, residents of Vasco da Gama protested after a fresh batch of ration cards given to them carried the name of Sambhaji. The port city is home to a cosmopolitan population of several thousand and is the state’s only major port.
On the backfoot following public outrage, the state BJP insisted Sambhaji’s name appeared by mistake on the ration cards.