Being a Goan in Goa is more important than being an Indian, the coastal state's deputy Chief Minister Vijai Sardesai said on Monday.
Mr Sardesai, who heads the regional Goa Forward party which claims to aggressively espouse the cause of retaining Goa's unique identity, made the remark while speaking at a function organised by the Goa Nepali Society in state capital Panaji.
"All in all you also have to accept the unique living style of Goans, the Goan-nes which we call 'Goenkarponn'. It is more important than being an Indian. In Goa, we need to be Goenkars (Goan)," Mr Sardesai said.
"Goa is a little different than the rest of the country. We have a different identity, language, our culture is different than the rest of the country. Our history is different than the rest of the country. It is important that Goa is a very cosmopolitan, tolerant, secular and a liberal state, which is known for its tourism, hospitality and the loving and kind nature of the people."
As much as #Goemkars respect the exemplary courage of the Gorkha Regiment & the loyalty of the Nepali community, we expect them to respect our unique identity, culture & traditions whilst staying in #Goa . Respecting #Goenkarponn would take the Nepali community #forward in Goa! pic.twitter.com/5kRvFNUQxY- Vijai Sardesai (@VijaiSardesai) April 1, 2019
Mr Sardesai's party, Goa Forward's rise over the last few years has been attributed to the political outfit's focus on Goa-centric issues.
"Our government in Goa is also very liberal, but at the same time we are very much conscious that Goa should remain Goa. Goa cannot be yet another simple part of India. We have to maintain and preserve our distinct identity, with that comes our architecture, with that comes our culture, tradition and everything. I do hope that you all will become Goenkars in course of time and respect the laws of the land, respect the culture and traditions of Goa," Mr Sardesai added.
According to the Goa Nepali Society, there are around 50,000 Nepalis settled in the coastal state whose population is around 1.5 million.