PANAJI: The Goa Congress on Thursday criticised the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 saying the legislation would put the fate of thousands of Goans who have obtained Portuguese passports, under a special law enacted by Portugal, in peril.
Addressing a press conference here, Congress spokesperson Trajano D'Mello said the Christian MLAs in the cabinet, and those supporting the BJP-led coalition government should articulate their position on the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB).
"Those altar boys, specifically Panchayats Minister Mauvin Godinho, Ports Minister Michael Lobo, Revenue Minister Jennifer Monserrate who have joined the cabinet should articulate their position on the bill, which is a law that is aimed at dividing the country on religious lines. Their silence will be construed as their acceptance of the bill," D'Mello said.
Goa, which was a Portuguese colony for over 450 years, gained independence from Portuguese rule in 1961.
The departing Portuguese, however, offered Goan natives Portuguese citizenship. The privilege of availing Portuguese citizenship was later granted to Goans who had lived in Portuguese-ruled Goa, as well as their off-springs up to three generations down the line.
Thousands of Goans have used the opportunity to migrate to Portugal and subsequently to the UK, thanks to the easy access across countries under the aegis of the European Union.
Rough estimates suggest that up to 30,000 Goans, majority of which are Christians, are living in the UK alone, using the Portuguese citizenship route.
"The Goans who have migrated to Portugal for livelihood, their very fate is now in question," D'Mello said, adding that the CAB would further alienate their linkages to Goa.
After the CAB was passed in Parliament on Wednesday, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for "passage of the historic" bill, which is "a victory for the nation & an occasion to celebrate for the religiously persecuted refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh & Afghanistan".