Goa AAP makes dual citizenship its poll plank

Goa AAP makes dual citizenship its poll plank

Elvis Gomes

Keen to tap the 'goodwill' of more than two lakh Goan expats and overseas Indian citizens, the Aam Aadmi Party, eager to make its presence felt in Goa, will examine the issue of dual citizenship, state party convenor and South Goa candidate for the Lok Sabha polls, Elvis Gomes said on Tuesday. 

"Political will is required. I don't think this kind of a will is there among these traditional parties, who have been taking our votes and not even bothering to look into this issue," Gomes said. 

Gomes, a retired bureaucrat, acknowledged that there is a significant chunk of the state's population who were Portuguese by birth and had subsequently come to acquire Indian citizenship, following the 1961 liberation. 

Goa, one of Portugal's oldest colonies was liberated by the Indian military from colonial rule in 1961. After the liberation, the state's native population was granted mass Indian citizenship by the Union home ministry through a common central notification.   

But the departing Portuguese also allowed those who were living in Goa during their 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 born to parents or grandparents who were born in Portuguese-held Goa. 

However, over the years, more than a hundred thousand Goans have opted for Portuguese citizenship while also retaining their Indian citizenship, which has, in turn, created a unique crisis of national identity.   

While the Union Home Ministry formed a panel to examine the issue a couple of years ago, Gomes has assured that the AAP too "will definitely examine this". 

Gomes' assurance on dual citizenship is bound to tug a cord with the voters of South Goa, especially the Catholic-oriented region of Salcete. Home to nine Assembly constituencies, this region has seen the largest number of out-migration to Europe, with the help of the Portuguese passport route over the last few decades. 

Gomes claims, that NRIs and OCIs continue to be in touch with their homeland despite having moved to another continent. 

"They are finally from this land. They have their roots here. They have their heart here. They may be physically somewhere else. They feel the pain more than even people from Goa, when they hear stories about Goa going downhill. Yes we have been getting tremendous support from the OCIs, NRIs and I am very thankful to them," the AAP leader said.