Looking at the first elections in Goa
The efforts and research of Senior Advocate and former Advocate General of Goa into examining the events that unfolded during the first elections in Goa during the Portuguese Constitutional Monarchy, offer a perspective into an important era of Goa’s history.
Senior Advocate and former Advocate General of Goa, Mario Bruto da Costa recently released the book ‘Elections in Goa during the Portuguese Constitutional Monarchy’.
It may be recalled that the senior advocate had earlier published another book, that one in Portuguese, titled, ‘A Terceira Corrente’, containing an interesting and very relevant selection of letters, speeches and articles of his late father, Adv Antonio Anastasio Bruto da Costa, a fearless Goan, who valiantly opposed many of the policies and decisions of the Salazar regime, particularly during the last fifteen years of his dictatorial and controversial rule in Goa.
This new book gives a fair representation of a narrative of events and facts that occurred during the Portuguese rule, the time of the first elections that were held in Goa and what that meant at that time. This, the system of representations at various levels of administration was one of the major reforms conceded to Goa and other overseas colonies of Portugual during the constitutional period as consequence of the liberal changes in 1820 in Portugal.
The system of election and representation of people during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries constitute unique features in the administration of colonial Goa. The book examines the nature of enfranchisement and election that prevailed in Goa against the background of the political system in Portugal and the Portuguese legislations in Goa. While the system of election followed in Goa reflects the political trends in Portugal and Europe, it also shows the colonial character of the Portuguese rule in Goa.
“One of the strengths of this book is it is replete with quotations. I feel the quotations lends strength to the narrative in this book. We get to hear the voices from the primary sources and through that we learn that these were the men of considerable talent, fine parliamentarians, men of courage who did not mince their words when they sat in parliament and asserted the rights of the people of Goa,” says senior advocate Jayant Mulgaonkar, who provided an introduction to the book at its release function.
After Constitutional Monarchy was established in Portugal in the early nineteenth century , a charter was granted to Goa under which Goans elected their representatives or 'deputados' to the Portugues parliament.
Among the first of these, were Bernado Peres Da Silva and Constancio Roque da Costa who were followed over the years by number of others and included such famous names as Francisco Luis Gomes, Bernardo Francisco Da Costa among others.
When António de Oliveira Salazar became the Prime Minister of Portugal, he was the architect of the Colonial Act, which affected Portuguese India, differentiating Goans from the metropolitan Portuguese people.
“Now interestingly in the 1820s the provisional junta of the government in Portugal proclaimed to the people of Portugal that there shall be no more colonies but overseas provinces and fellow citizens of the same motherland. Almost a century there after Salazaar changed gears. And unfortunately Salazaar’s gear shift or gear stick was stuck in the reverse gear. He enacted a piece of legislation which was the Colonial Act which laid down that it was of the organic sense of Portuguese nation to discharge the function of possession and colonising overseas dominions and civilizing the people residing therein. Now the results of his policies are well known today,” says author Mario Bruto Da Costa.
“What I would like to emphasize is that the period after 1820 had certain events that are worth noting. One is that Goa had, for the first time, a Goan as a governor, with the title of Prefect. Secondly, Goans fought elections fearlessly against candidates fielded by the central government in Goa. Thirdly, Goans enjoyed complete freedom of speech and expression and they exercised this right with dignity and without fear,” adds the senior advocate.
While the author spent a lot of time researching and examining old documents and newspaper articles, his book has been praised for its accurate depiction and portrayal of the high civic sense, integrity of character and outstanding cultural strengths that were displayed by a generation of Goan intelligentsia of that era.
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