PANAJI: Former Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru did not delay Liberation of Goa, in fact he created a benchmark by tackling the issue of Goa at international level in tune with India’s policy of peace and non-violence while also adopting armed action, said Sandesh Prabhudesai, a journalist and writer.

He also said that Goa would have been merged into Maharashtra much before the Opinion Poll if Nehru had not remained firm on maintaining Goa’s unique identity right from the day he became India’s prime minister.

Prabhudesai was speaking as a guest speaker at a seminar organised by Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) at Panaji, on the occasion of 131st birth anniversary of Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India. Anant Agni, Trustee of Nehru Centre, Goa, delivered a keynote address.

Prabhudesai was invited to speak in view of his article he had written to counter Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant’s allegation that Nehru had delayed liberation of Goa by 14 years. After India gaining independence in 1947, Goa was liberated in 1961 through armed action.

In an elaborate presentation, Prabhudesai provided chronological evidence with facts and figures regarding the major developments that had taken place since 1946, when Nehru became the interim PM of India, till 1961.

Colonies of France and Portugal in India had become an international issue with the whole western block led by the USA had opposed Goa’s decolonisation. While France agreed for a plebiscite and then moved out of India, Portugal not only refused to conduct a plebiscite but even amended its Constitution calling Goa, Daman, Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli as provinces of Portugal, not colonies.

While Nehru through United Nations Organisation (UNO) managed support of Afro-Asian nations for Goa, Portugal managed support of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) for military intervention to block India’s attempts to free Goa. Portugal also approached the international court, but did not succeed.

Soon after the court verdict in 1960, Nehru went offensive, said Prabhudesai and narrated all the incidents of warning Portugal of armed action at all the possible forums and finally went ahead with the armed action in December 1961.

Prabhudesai also provided documentary evidence of how ‘Operation Vijay’ of the Indian Army was initiated by Nehru along with his Defence Minister V K Krishna Menon. To substantiate, he read out excerpts from the writings of then Finance Minister Morarji Desai, then Army Chief Lt Gen J N Choudhari, then USA ambassador of India John Kanneth Galbraith as well as series of letters and notes written by Nehru. It is another false propaganda, he said, that Menon had initiated armed action by keeping Nehru in dark.

Anant Agni spoke in detail about the policies Nehru adopted and institutions he created in the field of industry, agriculture, education, art and culture as well as literature through which India was shaped up as a developing country. Nehru was not only a Statesman but also a historian, writer and a most sensitive human being, he added. 

In the second half, at a function at party level, Congress leaders including Opposition Leader Digambar Kamat, former CM and Poriem MLA Pratapsinh Rane, former Union Minister Ramakant Khalap and GPCC President Girish Chodankar also spoke on Nehru’s vision for India. GPCC vice President M K Shaikh moderated.

Earlier, party leaders garlanded Nehru’s portrait. Congress Seva Dal chief organiser Shankar Kirlapalkar proposed a vote of thanks.