News Brief

Controversy Erupts As Congress Candidate Claims Indian Constitution 'Forced' Upon Goans: All About It

Nayan Dwivedi

Apr 23, 2024, 01:11 PM | Updated 01:10 PM IST

 Viriato Fernandes
Viriato Fernandes

A recent statement by Congress candidate Captain Viriato Fernandes during a meeting in South Goa has ignited a political firestorm, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) launching scathing criticism against the opposition party.

Fernandes' assertion that the Indian Constitution was "forced" upon Goans after the state's liberation from Portuguese rule in 1961 has become the focal point of the controversy.

Fernandes, a retired Naval officer and Kargil war veteran, recently, recounted his conversation with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi regarding the demand for dual citizenship for Goans.

“On 10 March 2019, before the Lok Sabha election, Rahul Gandhi, who was then Congress president, had come to Goa. We held a discussion with him and placed 12 demands before him. One of them was the demand for dual citizenship,” he said.

Fernandes said Rahul asked them whether it was constitutional and when he was told that it was not, he said there would be no more discussion on it.

“Our destiny was decided by someone else. When the Constitution was drafted and came into force, Goa was not part of India. There was no provision made for us. For Kashmir, there was Article 370, which has been abrogated now. Nothing was done for Goans. We need this provision,” Fernandes said he told Rahul.

Fernandes remarks, however, drew swift condemnation from Goa Chief Minister and BJP leader Pramod Sawant, who accused the Congress candidate of undermining the Constitution and engaging in divisive politics.

In a post on social media, Sawant condemned Fernandes' comments, asserting that Congress was responsible for delaying Goa's liberation by 14 years and accusing the party of endangering democracy with its rhetoric.

“Our freedom fighters believed wholeheartedly that Goa is an inseparable part of India. Congress delayed Goa's liberation by 14 years. Now, their candidate dares to undermine the Indian Constitution? Congress must stop this reckless Bharat todo politics immediately. Congress is a threat to our democracy,” he said.

Fernandes, in turn, defended his position and challenged Sawant not to distort his words for political gain.

Fernandes posted on social media platform X, tagging Sawant, saying: “Dear @GoaCM , Don’t try to twist & turn selective words from my speech to get political mileage & spread venom. I am ready for an open Debate on what I spoke…”

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Nayan Dwivedi is Staff Writer at Swarajya.

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