Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on his recent visit to Goa said it is not the central government that decides on special category status to states but the national development council (NDC) which comprises chief ministers of all Indian states and the central cabinet.
As of now, NDC has decided that no new states will be added to the existing list of states enjoying special category status. Mukherjee made the revelation at a media briefing while on a campaign visit to Goa. He was asked why the Centre was not responding to Goa’s request for special status despite the state legislative assembly passing a unanimous resolution to that effect and despite the demand of Goa Rajya Sabha MP Shantaram Naik in Delhi. The Union finance minister, however, said central assistance to Goa had jumped steeply keeping in view the special requirements of the state.
On February 20, BJP released its election manifesto which made no mention of special status for Goa. Asked about it then, Matanhy Saldanha who had been aggressively advocating the notion had said, “The BJP high command has already approved the demand for special status.”
But BJP national president Nitin Gadkari only yesterday said special status cannot and should not be given to Goa. Announcing BJP’s campaign plans, Gadkari in reply to a question said, “Special status cannot be given to Goa.
Goa was liberated from Portuguese rule on December 19, 1961. It was given status of union territory till 1987 after which it was granted statehood. Migration of people from other parts of India as well as the craze for land and second homes in Goa has seen rising opposition from Goans to protect land and identity. Those demanding special status have also pointed to India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s assurance on this issue before and after liberation.