Panaji, Dec 16 (IANS) The Congress in Goa on Monday accused the BJP of trying to “liquidate” non-BJP voters by introducing the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the coastal state in order to de-list Goans holding Portuguese passports from Indian citizenship records.
The accusation from Congress spokesperson Trajano D’Mello comes even as state BJP general secretary Narendra Sawaikar on Wednesday tried to evade questions related to the impact the introduction of the NRC in Goa, would have on the fate of thousands of Goans who have opted for the Portuguese citizenship route under a special Portuguese citizenship law for natives of its former colonies.
“The agenda of the BJP in Goa is to liquidate Portuguese passport holders from the electoral rolls, so that they have a majority. Most of the Portuguese passport holders are not BJP voters,” D’Mello told reporters.
Goa, which was a Portuguese colony for over 450 years, gained independence from Portuguese rule in 1961. The departing Portuguese, however, offered Goan natives Portuguese citizenship. The privilege of availing Portuguese citizenship was later granted to Goans who had lived in Portuguese-ruled Goa, as well as their off-springs up to three generations down the line.
Thousands of Goans, mostly Christians, have used the opportunity to migrate to Portugal and subsequently to the UK, thanks to the easy access across countries under the aegis of the European Union. Rough estimates suggest that up to 30,000 Goans are living in the UK alone, using the Portuguese citizenship route, while many have availed of the Portuguese passport facility but continued to reside in Goa.
Earlier on Monday, BJP general secretary Sawaikar had tried to dodge queries about when the NRC would be introduced in Goa and the possible impact it would have on Goans who hold Portuguese passports.
“So let the NRC come first. Then we shall see about it,” Sawaikar said. The former BJP MP also said that the vexed Portuguese passport issue could also be resolved under provisions of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.