PANAJI: Congress leader and Aldona MLA Adv Carlos Alvares Ferreira hit back at AAP MLA Venzy Viegas accusing him of lying on the floor of the house and called on the AAP MLA to apologise for his statements that the Legislative Assembly is not competent to amend the Comunidade Code.
“Why did Capt Venzy Viegas get upset? He said recourse for amendment of the code is by way of article 652. The CM asked me what is the position on article 652 — at that time I stood up, it was not my turn to speak, but since I was asked I rose and said what the law is,” Adv Ferreira said.
“I said article 652 does not come in the way of the House making an amendment. Since I gave the correct interpretation of article 652, he was upset.
“I’m a major shareholder in the Margao comunidade. I have so many other comunidade shares. I am definitely interested in the welfare of the comunidades. I’m not anti comunidade. I’m not a land grabber. I’m not a comunidade land grabber. So I will never do anything against the interests of the comunidade,” he added.
Adv Carlos read out the text of Article 652 which says: “Every five years in the city Panjim on the 2nd of January every year. A meeting shall be held of the delegates of all the comunidades to deal with the matters of general interest to them, to foster its progress and propose to the governor general some measures in this connection.”
There is nothing in the article that is for amendment of the code. There is nothing that says they shall be consulted or objections invited before amendment of a code. A legislature — whether it is the central government or state government — can legislate without even asking public opinion,” he said.
He pointed to two judgements of the High Court — one from 1996 which upheld the power of the State Government to amend Code of Comunidades and another from 2022 which rejected this very argument that amendment to comunidade code cannot be made without consulting the members under Article 652.
“Do we elect legislators who will make false statements? Completely wrong! And then you get angry because I say that this is the correct position of law? You say sorry — you say sorry to the House and say sorry to me — to me I don’t care if you don’t say sorry. Apologise to the House for making false statements,” he added.
“Don’t take umbrage on false statements and false legal propositions which you are saying in the House,” he said.
“It is a shame to have such MLAs in the house and then do drama and natak outside the house. It’s very sad — and is it only with an intention to portray Congress in a bad light? You make false statements and say that only your party is there to save Goa ad save the nation? There is a time and limit where you can play your drama, there is a time and limit where people can tolerate you and if you are a right, I will say sorry, but if you are wrong then you tell the whole world what you are doing is completely false,” he said.
“I also pointed out about this amendment — that the Government of Goa has the power to amend the code — why did I say this? because this is often debated. I didn’t say that Venzy had said it. There are people who believe …I have not only the law, but I have judgements to back it. I know what I am saying on the floor of the house. I won’t mislead. If we have a government which is going to pass the law, they have all the numbers, they will do what they want. If we stand up and tell the government — you have seen — how clause by clause the comunidade law was opposed by me and how it destroys the independence of the comunidades,” he said.
“I have shown how you cannot keep elected people forever, how on one complaint you can suspend an elected managing committee, you are not bringing a substitute but you are trying to appoint your man on the committee. I’ve also shown other provisions are going to detrimentally affect — no one did that exercise, I’m the only one who did it. If I wanted I could have remained quiet — and when it came to the passing of the bill, I was there with all the other opposition members on the well of the house to oppose that amendment. If I wanted I could have walked out, I could have sat down. I didn’t — even though the government tried to placate by saying they are accepting a suggestion and the revenue minister said I will bring an amendment in the next session of the house. We were not satisfied that we went to the well of the House. There was nothing which we did to play ball with the government,” he said.
“As far the agriculture bill is concerned, I am the one again who had clause by clause shown — how they were saying it is to protect agriculture — how anyone who can come from any part of India, who is cultivating even a garden at the back of his house can become an agriculturist, I’ve explained how agriculture includes building farmhouses. I brought provisions of the land revenue code and showed that I expressed my apprehension that we will have farmhouse culture here in Goa. I also opposed and stood with the opposition,” he added.
“If the government asks for suggestions from the opposition and the government accepts suggestions I think it should be recognised as a victory for the opposition,” he said.
“I never took it as my personal victory. According to me it is a victory for the opposition. Sadly, I think that is being torn apart to show that I’m in league with the government. If I want to do settings I won’t go to the minister’s cabin,” he said.
“We have been able to put (forth) people’s apprehensions and fears. Opposition is not only to hold dharna, rasta roko protest and making drama in the house. Opposition is also required to give constructive suggestions,” he said.
“I have said on the day of my victory that I will be a constructive opposition. I will not want to simply stand up and shout and not be able to support what I cannot. This is the underlying philosophy of the Congress party. The Congress party stands with the people — and supports not only the people living everyday lives but the smallest of the smallest and will touch the hearts and minds of the people and will make sure Goa is protected, Goa is not finished and Goa is not sold off,” he said.
Congress spokesperson Amarnath Panjikar said that the AAP only wanted to claim they are the only party that thinks of saving Goa.
“If he cared about unity, he would not come to the camera. Could you not meet Yuri in the cabin? Why couldn’t you ask the MLA directly. Why did you go before the camera?” he said.