Tuesday 20 November 2018

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PM rules out India's participation in Portuguese celebrations

 

India's participation in Portugal, to mark the fifth centenary celebrations of Vasco da Gama's visit to our country, is ruled out by Prime Minister I K Gujral. It also won't hold any celebrations here.

The statement however has come from union law minister Ramakant Khalap, who claims that the PM has assured him in this regard, when he had met the latter to convey sentiments of the people of Goa, the erstwhile Portuguese colony, against the celebrations.

The Deshpremi Nagrik Samiti (Patriotic Citizens' Committee), formed by the freedom fighters and various political parties here, has opposed the celebrations alleging that da Gama was a coloniser and not a discoverer.

While the Kerala government has refused to hold any celebrations there, the Sangh Parivar is actively involved in the Samiti in Goa. The BJP has also raked up the issue nation-wide and is planning to seek an assurance in the Parliament during the July session.

Exploiting the anti-Portuguese sentiments of the Goans, the Sangh Parivar is trying to give a communal twist to the issue, reminding the locals about the forceful conversions of Hindus into the Catholic religion. The Samiti is also demanding that the name of Vasco da Gama city be changed.

"Why should we rake up the controversial past ? It will always remind us of what we should not do in future", opines Khalap, disagreeing with the BJP's demand. He also supports the Indo-Portuguese cultural commission being set up by the government, for cultural exchange.

Regarding the demand of extending the Portuguese Common Civil Code being practised in Goa to the rest of the country, the law minister feels it should be a collective effort of the House and can't be done at individual's initiative.

During his Swarn Jayanti Rath Yatra here, BJP president L K Advani had thrown an open challenge at Khalap to extend Goa's common civil code to the whole country. "I am prepared to do it if Advaniji succeeds in bringing unanimity on the issue", he quipped.

Stating that the government received thousands of petitions protesting against Supreme Court's directive to implement the common civil code, he feels India can at the most have common procedural code on the lines of the Portuguese code.

The Portuguese civil code is also not fully uniform, he points out, but divided into different regimes. It fully protects customary laws of the Hindus, he adds, though all Goans follow the code judiciously.






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