Panaji, April 1: Four legislators, including a Christian MLA from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, have demanded that the Goa Film Festival be rescheduled for clashing with the Holy Week to be observed by Christians in the state.
The Christian community accounts for about 26 percent of the population of the state.
Opposition MLAs Reginaldo Lourenco (Congress), Vijai Sardesai, Rohan Khaunte (Independent) and Michael Lobo (BJP), at a press conference here on Wednesday said the actions of the Goa government were worrying for the minorities in the state by precipitating controversial issues.
“I am demanding that my government should reschedule the Goa Film Festival because it clashes with the Holy Week which is a time for mourning for Christians. It is not acceptable,” Lobo told reporters.
Lobo is one of the BJP’s six Christian MLAs in the 40-member state legislative assembly. The BJP-led coalition government also has the support of four other Christian MLAs who are either independents or from other regional political parties.
The Goa Film Festival organised by a state government-funded society is scheduled to be held from April 3-5.
The Holy Week, signifying a spell of reflection and penance for the Christian community, begins from Maundy Thursday (April 2) which commemorates Jesus’ last supper with his disciples; Good Friday (April 3), which honours the day of his crucifixion; and Holy Saturday (April 4), which focuses on the transition between the crucifixion and resurrection.
The Holy Week culminates with Easter Sunday.
Those opposing the timing of the festival claim that the BJP is mocking the minority community by asking them to enjoy a film festival when they are in mourning.
“Tomorrow we may even have Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar congratulate Goans on Good Friday, which is a day of mourning. This government is being consistently insensitive to minorities,” Sardesai said.
Congress MLA from Curtorim, Aleixo Reginaldo, said the government should apologise for the Film Festival decision which comes on the heels of a series of alleged anti-minority controversies which include beef shortage, efforts to observe Christmas holiday as Good Governance Day among others.
“These decisions are completely anti-minority. It shows the government has no concern for Goa’s Christians,” Lourenco said.
The chief executive officer of the Entertainment Society of Goa (ESG) Rajan Satardekar has claimed that the dates had been finalised months ago and it would be difficult to reschedule them. “It may be difficult to shift the dates this late,” the official told reporters.