Panaji, Aug 6 (IANS) The ruling BJP and opposition Congress party MLAs on Tuesday verbally clashed during discussions over a motion in the Goa assembly to congratulate Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for the decision to bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories (UTs) — Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh — and cancel the Constitution’s Article 370.
While the Congress lawmakers staged a walkout, claiming the Indian Constitution was violated by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre in pushing through the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill 2019, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said that the Congress needed to explain why Goa’s liberation from Portuguese yoke was delayed by 14 years after India’s independence in 1947.
“We (Goa) lag behind by 14 years. In 1947, India was independent, Goa was freed in 1961… Why was there delay in Goa’s freedom? They will have to answer,” Sawant said during the discussion on the congratulatory motion following the walkout by Congress MLAs.
Sawant also blamed the Congress for having failed to achieve special status for Goa, India’s smallest state, under Article 371 of the Constitution, which grants this benefit to the Northeastern states.
“Why did you not get special status under Article 371, when Goa attained statehood in in 1987,” Sawant said.
Earlier, former Chief Minister and Congress MLA Luizinho Faleiro expressed apprehension that Goa could also be turned into an UT with a law similar to the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill 2019.
“Under the same draconian law, Goa can be converted into an UT or can be even merged with Maharashtra,” Faleiro said in the assembly.
In India’s first referendum in 1967, Goa, liberated from Portuguese rule in 1961, voted to remain an independent territory in the Indian Union instead of being merged with Maharashtra. After being an UT for more than two decades, Goa attained statehood in 1987.
Responding to Faleiro’s statement, Panchayat Minister Mauvin Godinho accused the Congress leader of raising “unnecessary” fears and said he was not aware of the ground realities in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Chief Minister also urged Faleiro to speak with caution as “it is impossible to dissolve Goa as a state”.