Parrikar invokes Nehru to seek special status for Goa

    By Mayabhushan Nagvenkar, IANS,

    Panaji : Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has invoked former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s fondness for the state to convince Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that his state should be accorded special status.

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    Rising real estate prices and the fear of indigenous Goans being reduced to a minority because of large and rapid migration into the state are also what Parrikar has underlined in a bid to convince the prime minister that Goa be granted special status.

    “Drawing a parallel with French possessions in India, Nehru had acknowledged history and given Pondicherry and Goa an identity different from the rest of India. The Goans were assured that they shall have freedom to retain their unique identity in a manner wished by Goa’s people,” said Parrikar’s memorandum submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office Wednesday evening.

    The memorandum follows a unanimous resolution passed by the Goa assembly earlier this year empowering the state government to seek special status under Article 371 of the constitution.

    The memorandum makes several references to Nehru and the assurances granted by India’s first prime minister to Goa around the time it was liberated by the Indian army in 1961 from 400 years of Portuguese rule, making it the oldest-ruled European colony in India.

    “Nehru had made it amply clear during the discussions inside and outside the Indian parliament that both Goa as well as Pondicherry are integral parts of India and no compromises on its freedom and integration with India will be made,” he said.

    The issue of rising real estate costs as well as rapid migration into Goa over the last few years due it its reputation as a place with easy and quality lifestyle, lots of entertainment and good investment destination has been debated across the political and social forums here.

    In his submission, Parrikar has tried to convey to Manmohan Singh how Goa’s case, as compared to other regions in the country, was unique.

    The move of the Portugal colonists to impose the Portuguese language on Goans had severely affected the state’s fortunes, he said.

    “Goa remained isolated from the rest of the country because the Portuguese sought to insulate it from external influences by limiting educational opportunities. The Portuguese restricted education to the school stage and that too predominantly in the Portuguese language. This effectively kept the Goans in the dark about the rest of the country, let alone rest of the world,” he said, adding that in spite of all efforts by the Portuguese rulers, Goa still retained its Indian cultural roots, albeit a distinct one.

    Parrikar also tried to carve a distinction between the demands for special status from other states like Bihar and Odisha, whose leaders have been demanding a hefty financial package from the central government.

    “Goa is not seeking special status for financial benefits, but to preserve and protect its unique identity,” Parrikar said.

    “Large scale migration is diluting the Goan identity, apart from changing the demography. On account of largescale land purchases by outsiders, land rates have skyrocketed and local Goans are not able to afford a roof over their heads,” Parrikar said, making a case for protecting “the unique Goan identity by providing constitutional protection to control and regulate sale and transfer of land to non-Goans, including foreigners”.

    (Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at [email protected])