Portuguese PM to skip beaches, packed schedule in Goa

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Panaji: When Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa arrives in the land of his origin on Tuesday night, a stroll on Goa’s popular beaches certainly does not appear to be at the top of his agenda.

Costa or “Babush”, as he is known by his family in Konkani, during his two-day visit to Goa, a former Portuguese colony whose shores his poet as well as writer father Orlando quit decades back, has a packed schedule in the coastal state.

Costa will host official banquets, Bollywood producers, visit temples, churches, stroll down the popular Latin Quarter in Fontainhas in Panaji and take some time off to visit his ancestral home in Margao town, about 35 km from here.

Sources at the Portuguese consulate here and the state protocol department, which have been tasked with facilitating Costa’s visit, said the Goa-end of the Prime Minister’s itinerary during his seven-day visit to India was being worked out and fine-tuned for over three months.

“Costa’s visit is chock-a-block with engagements. He is coming back home, we have spared no efforts to make his visit a success,” sources in the state government, which is engaged in arranging the logistics for the visit, told IANS on Monday.

Costa’s high-level delegation team has already worked out various pacts dealing with defence, security, IT, renewable energy sectors with the central government, and the Prime Minister himself has gifted a Cristiano Ronaldo jersey to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.

After a night’s interlude following his arrival in Goa, Costa will on Wednesday first meet Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and Governor Mridula Sinha, before attending a lunch hosted by the state government.

The Portuguese Prime Minister will also visit the Old Goa Church complex, a Unesco-endorsed world heritage site built during the colonial era, and the Mangueshi temple.

He will also meet top officials of the National Institute of Oceanography near here, and then attend a civic reception in his honour.

Costa is also scheduled to address the audience and attend a presentation of the English translation of his father’s book ‘Sem Flores Nem Coares’.

Poet Orlando was born in the Portuguese colony of Mozambique in 1929, but his family migrated to Goa, whose tropical shores he later left at the age of 18 for Lisbon.

Goa was ruled by Portugal for 451 years before she was liberated by the Indian Army in 1961.

Costa will on Thursday visit the Birla Optical Fibre factory in Verna in South Goa, before undertaking a walking visit to the Latin quarter in Fontainhas.

There he will visit the Portuguese cultural organisation Fundacao Oriente and inaugurate Centro de Lingua Portuguesa.

On the same afternoon, Costa will also conduct another walking tour through the city, and then visit a local college of law.

Costa on Thursday night will host Bollywood producers at a five-star resort, where he is expected to make a pitch for Portugal as a film-shooting destination, as well as host a reception for Portuguese, Indo-Portuguese communities and local authorities.

He is also expected to visit his ancestral home in Margao and share a meal with close relatives and friends, his first cousin Anna Kaarina Jussilainen told IANS.

“It’s going to be a simple meal, he would like to share with friends and family,” she said.

Costa’s arrival has already stirred political interest in the poll-bound Goa with regional parties like the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and the Goa Suraksha Manch demanding an apology for atrocities committed by Portuguese colonists.

The Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party have however unequivocally welcomed Costa, saying an apology from friendly countries was out of question.

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