Panaji: Goa's Ports Minister Michael Lobo on Wednesday apologised for his comments expat Goans, accusing them of poisoning the minds of local residents, but also urged them against instigating people against development projects in the coastal state.
Speaking to reporters at the state secretariat, Lobo also said, that only a small percentage of Goan Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) card holders were criticising development works which are being carried out by the BJP-led coalition government in the state and urged others from the community to combat the criticism on social media.
"If they are hurt, I am saying sorry. But if you tell the truth also, one is targeted," Lobo said.
On November 30, Lobo had said, that OCI holders were poisoning minds of local Goans by criticising developmental works and added that they should instead critique the goings-on in their respective countries in Europe, instead of focusing their attention on Goa. The cabinet minister's comment had sparked outrage on social media.
Along with the apology on Wednesday, Lobo however urged them to comment positively about development work in Goa like building of bridges, roads, jetties, instead of "intervening" in the development of the state.
"They should not comment on the development of Goa... All OCI holders are not like that. There is only a small percentage, which believes that they are still in Goa. They are in London and keep posting (on social media). They are poisoning minds of other Goans. Other OCI card holders should intervene and when they write such criticism on Facebook," Lobo 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 are living in the UK alone, using the Portuguese citizenship route.