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Goa minister slams CM for ‘reversal in stand’ on special status for Goa

Panaji: A minister from Goa has slammed the state’s Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar for ruling out the possibility of granting special status to Goa. The Chief Minister and BJP president Amit Shah had made remarks, eliminating the possibility of ascribing a special status to Goa, in order to preserve the state’s unique identity.

Amit Shah, during his two-day visit to Goa last week, had indicated that he was not in favor of taking an immediate decision on Goa’s special status issue and that the demand would be bunched along with similar demands from other states.

Parsekar on Sunday had virtually ruled out the demand saying demanding special status was equivalent to chasing a “mirage”.

While the opposition has criticised the BJP-led governments in the state and the centre for making a u-turn on the special status promise, a Goa minister has now joined the chorus against her own chief minister.

Speaking to IANS, Forest and Environment Minister Alina Saldanha said that Parsekar’s comments describing the possibility of special status for Goa as a “mirage” were personal.

“Honourable chief minister is not as well versed with the issue as then chief minister Manohar Parrikar. He (Parrikar) knew the issue inside out,” Saldanha said.

“The chief minister should remember that he was a signatory to resolution. He was the state health minister at the time. Did he think it was a mirage then too?” asks Prajal Sakhardande, president of NGO Goa Movement for Special Status, of which Saldanha is a part.

For the last few years, the demand for special status for Goa has been doing the rounds in the political and social circles in the state, which has been facing challenges stemming from rapid in-migration, shrinking land resources and a resultant dilution of identity.

In 2014, Sakhardande had headed a delegation which met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when the latter was campaigning for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and submitted a memorandum citing reasons for granting Goa special status.

Saldanha has insisted that Goa’s demography could change forever if special status, which bars non-Goans from buying land in Goa, is not bestowed on the state.

“When are we going to wake up? Goa’s unique identity is in the process of being wiped out,” she said, adding that real estate lobbies in India metros who were keen on selling land and apartments on premium in Goa were stalling the process.

The opposition has already slammed the BJP volte face, with former union minister of state for law Ramakant Khalap claiming that as far as the BJP goes, “this is the end of the road as far as special status is concerned”.

Aam Aadmi Party spokesperson Oscar Rebello said that regarding special status, “the BJP leaders only choose to make vague statements about safeguarding cultural identity while ignoring the real issue that is about land”.

(With inputs from IANS)

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