A day after passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Parliament, the Goa Congress sought to know what would be the fate of Goans who opted for a Portuguese passport.
Talking to reporters here on Thursday, Congress' Goa unit spokesman Trajano D'Mello said Christian ministers in the Pramod Sawant-led state government should also explain their stand on the bill within 48 hours, or else their silence would be interpreted as their support to it.
"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.
The passage of the bill in Parliament marked the "darkest day" for the Indian Constitution, he said.
"So many Goans opted for Portuguese passport because the government (here) has failed to provide them employment.
The only purpose to get Portuguese passport was to survive," he said, wondering what would be their fate.
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, Goa 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".
D'Mello said the state Congress unit stands with the party leadership in opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
"The fallout of the bill can be seen in north-eastern states. Curfew has been imposed in Guwahati. The unrest in north-eastern states indicates that we are heading for a second freedom struggle," he said.