The first parliamentary elections in Goa

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Maria Lourdes de Brava da Costa e Rodrigues travels to January 14, 1822, almost two centuries ago, to the time when Portuguese India had to elect deputies to represent the territory in the Portuguese parliament

 

Elections were held in Goa for the first time on January 14, 1822.

Portuguese India had to elect deputies that would represent the territory in the Parliament. What led to the elections in a monarchical setting?

A revolutionary movement started in Portugal on August 24, 1820, began in O Porto to the North of Portugal, under the leadership of Fernandes Tomas, Ferreira Borges and Silva Carvalho, and spread to Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. The revolutionaries dismissed the governors appointed by the King and a Provisional Board of the Supreme Government of the Kingdom (Junta Provisional do Governo Superior do Reino) and a Provisional Board Preparatory of the Cortes (Junta Provisional Preparatoria das Cortes) were organised. The perpetrators of the movement decided to have a constitution and on October 31, 1820 instructions were issued for the elections of the deputies to the Cortes. The latter started functioning on January 26, 1821. An assembly elected by the Nation, following the revolt held discussions and promulgated the Constitution in 1822, which founded in Portugal the hereditary constitutional Monarchy. On December 1, 1822, the Cortes started functioning according to the Constitution. 

In the meantime Portuguese India, which also supported the proclamation of the Constitution, had formed a provincial government on September 16, 1821 namely the “Junta Provisional do Governo do Estado da India”, which through a revolt was disbanded and a second “Segunda Junta Provisional do Governo do Estado da India” was formed on December 3 of the same year. The delay in forming the first Junta was caused because the information took a long time to arrive from Portugal.

Now Portuguese India had to elect deputies that would represent the territory in the Parliament, and elections were held on January 14, 1822. An assembly of electors assembled under the president-ship of Father Paulo Antonio Dias de Conceicao in the senate of the Camara de Goa (municipality) to elect members to the Parliament as required under the Constitution. There were 17 provincial electors.

At this election, Dr Bernardo Peres da Silva, a physician from Neura, professor of the Medical school, who was a member of the Municipality of Goa and one of the leaders to depose the Viceroy Conde de Rio Pardo, who did not want to proclaim the liberal Constitution of 1820 without getting instructions from the Royal Court, at the time at Rio de Janeiro, won the election.

Constancio Roque da Costa from Margao was also successfully elected to the parliament. Later in 1834 he came as the Secretary to the government when Peres da Silva was appointed Prefeito do Estado da India. The third elected candidate was the chief physician, Dr Antonio Jose de Lima Leitao, a Portuguese liberal, who was one of the leaders to depose the Viceroy Conde de Rio Pardo as well as the first Junta Provisional do Estado da India.

The majority of the Europeans and their descendants had as their candidate the bishop of Cochin, Fr Thomaz de Noronha. They felt resentment against the elections of natives and nominated Noronha as special attorney, alleging that the whites did not have a representative. All the three elected members sailed for Portugal in 1823 in the ship “Luconia”. Noronha also went on board the shipalleging weak health. 
The voyage was full of difficulties. At Mozambique they were not granted the money that the Revenue Office had ordered to be advanced to them. At Rio de Janeiro, they were put under arrest, as then Brazil, having proclaimed her independence from Portugal, wanted that every Portuguese colony should do the same. Peres da Silva and Lima Leitao were later sent to Portugal and Costa had to continue the journey at his own cost. When they finally reached Lisbon, they found the Cortes dissolved and Absolute Monarchy re-imposed by King D Joao VI. This action of the King led Bernardo Peres da Silva to protest against the dissolution of parliament, while Constancio Roque da Costa addressed the King some representations on benefits to the country.

However, the new Government appointed Peres da Silva “Intendente Geral da Agricultura” in Goa and Costa his next in charge. All the same, it recommended vigilance over them, on account of their liberal views. This resulted in their not being given charge of the posts.

Back here in Goa captain Joaquim Mourao Garces Palha was elected to substitute Dr Lima Leitao in the Junta Provisional. This election was done by a legislative body consisting of only official persons. It did not take into consideration the votes of the people and neither did it attend to the representations made by the Municipality of Bardes and of various proprietors of Goa. This led to unhappiness amongst many. In fact the Junta was apprehensive that if the popular representatives were allowed to vote, a native might win the elections as had happened at elections to the parliament. 

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