After Goa CM’s flip-flop on Bhumiputra bill, Oppn demands scrutiny

After Chief Minister Pramod Sawant’s flip-flop over the controversial Bhumiputa Adhikarni Bill, 2021 late on Tuesday night, an upbeat opposition on Wednesday demanded the appointment of a select committee to examine the legislation which seeks to regularise illegal houses in Goa as well as bestow the status of ‘bhumiputra’ or sons of the soil to those with a 30 year domicile in the coastal state.

Speaking to reporters at the Dabolim international airport, All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary Dinesh Gundu Rao also chastised Sawant for rushing through the bill in the state assembly without discussion.

“All opposition parties have done their bit, but the CM of Goa has not run the assembly in a proper manner and no bills have been discussed properly. No time was given. It was simply passed without any discussions at the last minute. These are completely wrong actions by the CM of Goa. Important bills need to be discussed,” Rao told reporters.

“What is the need to rush through with all these bills. Our demand is that the CM should either reconvene the assembly and have a proper discussion or stall these bills and appoint a select committee to discuss all the bills. That is important. Everything needs to be debated and discussed,” he also said.

The BJP-led government has been facing flak over the proposed law, from the Opposition as well as civil society and tribal groups, who have not only questioned the contents of the bill, as well as its nomenclature, which his critics allege waters down the sanctity of the phrase ‘bhumiputra’.

The bill was passed amid an opposition walkout during the three-day monsoon session of the assembly.

Late on Tuesday, Sawant, in a video message said that the government was willing to drop the word ‘bhumiputra’ from the legislation and also assured that the bill would be tabled yet again in the assembly, while also inviting suggestions from the general public for incorporation into the legislation.

“I want to clear one thing: the sentiment of the people is attached to ‘bhumiputra’, and the state government is ready to remove the word from the bill. I give an assurance that bhumiputra will be removed from the bill,” Sawant said.

Opposition MLA and Goa Forward party president Vijai Sardesai has scoffed at the flip-flop claiming it was tantamount to “infantile” behaviour.

“HOW INFANTILE CAN YOU BE, @goacm?! How can you change the name of a Bill after it’s passed in the #Assembly, and then invite suggestions? Table it back in the House, A@DrPramodPSawant and withdraw it in toto! Changing the name will not help, change your intention! #Bhumiputra,” Sardesai tweeted.

“And why the sudden change of heart, @goacm? You bulldozed the #Bill making a mockery of #parliamentary #democracy in the #Assembly! Did @BJP4India whack you for hurting the party? Are they fed up with your tomfoolery which is embarrassing the party nationally? #Bhumiputra,” he also said.