BJP, AAP miffed with railway official calling Goa MLA Portuguese


Panaji, Jan 20 (IANS): Ruling and opposition political parties in Goa, including the BJP, on Monday demanded the resignation of South Western Railway manager Ajay Kumar Singh after he during a verbal duel with Goa BJP MLA Alina Saldanha allegedly suggested that she was of Portuguese descent.

While Goa BJP General Secretary Narendra Sawaikar demanded immediate action against Singh, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) demanded his dismissal for referring to Saldanha as one of Portuguese origin.

"We demand immediate unconditional apology from GM ofA@SWRRLYAShri. AjayKumar for referring MLA Smt. Alina Saldanha & people of Cortalim as Portuguese. We are Indians firstly & lastly.A@PMOIndiaA@PiyushGoyalA@RailMinIndia," Sawaikar tweeted.

In a tweet, Goa AAP convener Elvis Gomes also called the reference to Saldanha, an MLA from the Cortalim Assembly constituency, as "despicable".

"Despicable. How dare he? A Manager of SW Railway Ajay Kumar Singh, Hubballi Div, insults @BJP4Goa women MLA Alina Saldanha. Says Goans are not Indians. @DrPramodPSawant, NRC started? @AAPGoa demands, if any self respect remains, get @PiyushGoyal @RailMinIndia to dismiss him. Now," Gomes tweeted.

On Sunday, Alina Saldanha, who was leading a protest against the proposed demolition of houses in her constituency to make way for track doubling along the South Western Railways line, had taken offence to being referred to as one of Portuguese descent, during her face-off with Singh.

"Are they taking Goans for granted by calling us Portuguese? We are Indians first," Saldanha had told reporters following the altercation with the senior Indian Railways official. Saldanha is the wife of former BJP Minister late Mathany Saldanha.

Earlier, media reports quoted Singh as having said: "India has houses that are 5,000 years old. Goans were the invading force who came about 500 years back. When you all came, you also must have destroyed houses here... By you I meant Portuguese."

Singh, who functions from the headquarters of the South Western Railway in Hubli, could not be reached for a comment.

For years now, Saldanha has led protests against the doubling of railway tracks along the South Western Railway route, which passes through her constituency in South Goa, claiming that old heritage houses would be demolished if the double-tracking comes through.

Goa was ruled by the Portuguese for 451 years before it was liberated by the Indian armed forces in 1961.

  

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