In Goa, AAP promises to take up dual citizenship issue
The Aam Aadmi Party which is contesting both Goa’s parliamentary seats has vowed to take up the issue of dual citizenship for the people of Goa, many of whom are eligible for Portuguese nationality, if they are voted to power.
The party’s state convener and candidate for the South Goa seat Elvis Gomes said that the issue had been pending for several decades since “the traditional parties have been taking our votes and not even bothering to look into this issue.”
Claiming that Goa was a ‘unique case’ Gomes said that “nobody can take away the fact” that Goans of a certain generation were Portuguese citizens by birth. Gomes said the party will “definitely examine what could be done”.
“We have been Portuguese citizens by birth. Nobody can take it away from us. So here is a case-- it’s a unique case -- they were born in a Portuguese nation, born as a citizen of Portugal. Thereafter, when liberation took place, by adoption they are Indians,” Gomes said.
“The AAP will definitely examine this. We can look into this issue, we can examine what can be done and if there is a will, there is a way,” Gomes said.
The issue is likely to strike a chord with Goa’s Catholic population which makes up a dominant chunk of the electorate in South Goa, from where Gomes is contesting. A majority of Goa’s expats hail from the coastal regions of South Goa.
Goa has seen several villages turning empty as over the years Goans, especially Catholic Goans, have chosen to migrate to Europe.
Unlike the British, Portugal considered its colonies in India -- Goa and the Union territories of Daman and Diu as integral parts of the republic and its citizens at par with the citizens in Portugal.
After the Indian army marched into Goa on December 19, 1961, they issued a decree stating that all residents of Goa would be deemed to have become citizens of India unless they voluntarily opt for the nationality of Portugal or any other country.
Portugal, however, continues to recognize the citizenship allowing those born before 1961 and children up to three generations to reclaim their Portuguese citizenship. However, since Indian laws do not recognize dual citizenship, those opting for Portuguese citizenship have to renounce their Indian citizenship and lose their voting rights among other privileges, something they would rather retain.
Claiming Portuguese citizenship is the preferred means for those wishing to migrate to Europe, especially to the UK, as a Portuguese passport helps those migrating to work without the need for going through the cumbersome process of applying for a work visa.
Gomes, a former bureaucrat, who quit his job to join the AAP, had also contested the 2017 state assembly elections but lost his deposit. He hopes that he and his party can do better this time.