Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant arrives to attend the State Finance Ministers’ meeting in New Delhi on Wednesday.(ANI photo)
Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant arrives to attend the State Finance Ministers’ meeting in New Delhi on Wednesday.(ANI photo)

Goa CM blames Nehru for ‘delaying’ Goa’s liberation, causes uproar

Pramod Sawant was chosen to succeed Manohar Parrikar as chief minister in March last year despite being among the youngest BJP legislators in the Goa Legislative Assembly.
By Gerard de Souza | Hindustan Times, Panaji
UPDATED ON JAN 15, 2020 06:25 PM IST

Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has sparked a controversy after he blamed India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru for having delayed Goa’s liberation which resulted in the state being freed from the Portuguese rule 14 years after the rest of the country.

Sawant’s comments which were made at the ‘Know Your Army’ mela held in the state capital on Tuesday evening, came even as he praised and thanked the Army for liberating Goa in 1961.

“Truth be told, India got Independence in 1947, the people of the entire country got the fruits of Independence. But unfortunately for Goans, we had to wait 14 years to taste freedom. The Prime Minister at the time Jawaharlal Nehru was responsible for this. And because of him we got liberation 14 years later. If he had the political will, if he was really concerned about Goans then, and really felt that Goa should have been liberated from the Portuguese then we would have got liberation 14 years earlier. Never mind in 1947. He should have thought about us at least in 1950,” Sawant said.

“Why did we have to live under Portuguese rule for another 14 years, they have now to answer. Thanks to the military services. Goa’s freedom fighters and freedom fighters from around the country, they forced them to send military forces to Goa,” Sawant said.

Goa was liberated by the Indian Army on December 19, 1961, through a bloodless operation Vijay which saw the Portuguese surrender without offering a fight.

However, Sawant’s comments denigrating Nehru caused an uproar.

“Jawaharlal Nehru spent around nine years in jail (aggregate of 3259 days); (is an) acclaimed internationally as statesman, gave us Discovery of India, History of World Civilisations, laid the foundations of modern India (and was a) strong crusader of science, technology and scientific temper, committed to democratic and secular values, the architect of NAM (Non Aligned Movement), Chacha Nehru for children, thinker, giant intellectual, unified India,” Prabhakar Timble, a former State Election Commissioner said.

Others pointed out that with several people pointing out that an armed annexation of Goa was contemplated only after all diplomatic efforts failed.

“Portugal is a founding member of NATO (which considers an attack on a single member state as an attack on all of them). The moment India became independent, Goa’s issue was raised in NATO and thereafter in security council. Nehru’s fight was convincing the international community that Goa should belong to India,” Dr Mukul Pai Raiturkar explained.

“What complicated this further was Portuguese never considered Goa as their colony - always as their [integral] part and therefore necessary component of their sovereignty. Next problem was how to tackle the security council resolution brought by the US to declare India an aggressive nation. This was tackled with the help of Soviet Union who vetoed the resolution,” he added.

A party loyalist who rose through the ranks from being an ordinary worker, a BJP youth leader with an RSS background, Sawant was chosen to succeed Manohar Parrikar as chief minister in March last year despite being among the youngest BJP legislators in the Goa Legislative Assembly.

Earlier, former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan at a press conference in Goa had made a similar statement leading to an uproar from the Opposition Congress.

“It is easy for them to make statements standing here today. They do not know what the situation was back then because their parent organisation (referring to the RSS) was not involved in the freedom movement. Even today they are looking at the issue from a British perspective,” Goa Congress chief Girish Chodankar said.

The other colonial enclaves Pondicherry along with other French enclaves, joined India only in 1954, and de jure transfer was completed on May 28, 1956 while Instruments of ratification were signed on Aug. 16, 1962, from which date Pondicherry, consisting of the four enclaves, became a union territory.

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