Panaji: Political parties in Goa cutting across party lines have demanded that the government should start a dialogue with Goans living in Britain on Portuguese passports to allay their fears post Brexit — Britain’s exit from the European Union.
The Congress has demanded that the Union Ministry for External Affairs should reach out to Goans living in Britain on Portuguese passports and assure them of support from their native country.
“I think the External Affairs Ministry should immediately take up the issue with United Kingdom (UK) which is also interested in having an economic bond with India. The ministry must respond and reach out to the Goans in Britain and reassure them,” state Congress president Luizinho Faleiro said on Saturday.
Several thousand Goans, who obtained Portuguese nationality via a unique Lusofonian citizenship clause, are among the three million British Europeans residing in the UK, who face an uncertain future after Britain chose to quit the Union.
Goa was one of the oldest colonies of Portugal and was liberated by the Indian army from colonial yoke in 1961. After the liberation, all Goan natives were granted Indian citizenship by the Union Home ministry via a common notification.
However, the departing Portuguese, preferred not to snip the umbilical cord with its colonials by allowing those living in Goa during the Portuguese regime to register their birth in Portugal and avail of citizenship and Portuguese travel identity documents.
The privilege was later extended to two more generations of Goans.
Over the years several thousand Goans opted for Portuguese citizenship which opened the doors for them to other countries in the European Union, especially Britain.
“This decision (Brexit) can create problem for them. The Goans abroad have been contributing to the Indian economy and Goan economy by sending remittances back home. Brexit can lead to unemployment and force them to return to Goa,” Faleiro said.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Goa also said that the Brexit vote would not only cause doubt and confusion in the minds of Goans living in Britain, but also in the minds of thousands of other Goans who were in the process of obtaining Portuguese citizenship.
“The government should be sympathetic towards them and there should be a counselling facility available for those who are applying for Portuguese passports,” AAP’s spokesperson Rupesh Shinkre said.
Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar has repeatedly said in the past that he felt “extremely sad” when he saw many Goans queuing up outside the Portuguese consulate in Panaji, processing their papers for obtaining Portuguese passports.
Environment and Forest Minister Rajendra Arlekar however has maintained that there was not much the Goa government could do currently given the fact that those affected were largely those who gave up Indian citizenship.
“It is a problem for Britain. It is for them to take a decision. As of today Goa government has no role to play,” Arlekar said.