By Prajal Sakhardande
On today’s date January 16, in the year 1967, the historic Opinion Poll was taken. It was a turning point in the history of post-liberation Goa. Goa’s separate identity with Konkani as our mother tongue was at stake.
If not for the Opinion Poll verdict today we would be lost in a giant state like Maharashtra. We should salute all those great sensible minds which fought to retain Goa’s separate identity on the basis of Konkani.
Dr Jack Sequeira is hailed as the ‘Father of the Opinion Poll. He was our First Opposition Leader who fought tooth and nail to save Goa from merging with Maharashtra. We cannot also forget the great contribution made by Purushottam Kakodkar in lobbying for the Opinion Poll to save Goan identity at the Centre especially with the then Prime-Minister Indira Gandhi who finally granted us the Opinion Poll along with L P Singh.
Advocate Udai Bhembre’s speeches and Brahmastra, Ulhas Buyao’s dynamic Kala Pathak, Victoria Fernandes’ mobilising of women and courting arrest, Manoharrai Sardesai’s poetry, Ravindra Kelekar’s pen, efforts of Shabu Desai, Erasmo Sequeira, V M Salgaonkar’s finances, Arvind Bhatikar’s loss of teaching job, the pains taken by all the UG Party MLA’s and workers.
Tiatrists like M Boyer, social activists such as Nooruddun Mavani. Freedom fighters Nagesh Karmali, Gurunath Kelekar, Lambert Mascarenhas, Evagrio George and various social activists and leaders from al walks of life such as Zofrin D’Souza, Robert Menezes, Abdul Latif, Shaikh Ishani Sheikh Kader, Rudolf D Mello, Alvaro Pereira, Jose Cabral, Ligorio Cotta Carvalho, Lucio Rodrigues, Roque Santan Fernandes, Pandurang Moolgaonkar, Vaikunth Dhempe, Lawrence Barros, Eduardo Faleiro, Cipriano D’Souza, Bonifacio Dias, John D’Souza, C P Da Costa, Sebastiao Mazarello, Joaquim Araujo, Tomazinho Cardozo, Maurilo Furtado, Raul Bose, Alva Araujo, Christovam Furtado, Abdur Razzaq, Tatoba Rane, Teotonio Pereira, Orlando Sequeira Lobo, Roque Barneto, Apa Karmalkar, Shankar Bhandari, Janardhan Faldesai, Sadanand Tendulkar, Elu Miranda, Vasudev Sarmalkar, Enio Pimenta, Urminda Mascarenhas Lima Leitao, Alvaro Furtado, Luis Proto Barbosa, Sadashiv Desai, Jagannath Mhambre, Baburao Karekar, Shivaji Dubashi, Janardhan Redkar, Shrikant Prabhudesai, Manohar Khanolkar, Tukaram Karekar, Narayan Nachinolkar, Ciran Mascarenhas, Dattaram Shirodkar, Yeshwant Desai, Jacques Timote, Tulshidas Kamat, Shantaram Keshkamat, Francis Fernandes, Motilal Desai, Leo Velho, Loyola Furtado Alvar, Anastacio Almeida, Anant Narcinva Naik alias Babu Naik, Lima Leitao, Raghunathrao Deshprabhu, Jose Martins, Maria Elvin Pinto E Fereira, Malarao Sardesai, Sumant Kelekar, Fr Lucio Coutinho, Anton Pereira, Chandrakant Keni, Irene Barros, Sergio Carvalho, A C Afonso, Anton Moraes, Damodar Mauzo, Mohan Karapurkar, Jyoti Sarmalkar, Suhas Dalal, Harishchandra Nagvekar, Carmo Azavedo, Shantaram Amonkar, Shashikar Kelekar, Vijayabai Sarmalkar, M Shivdas, Dasraj Telang, Fr Lucio Coutinho, Dadu Kelekar, Ajit Lotlikar, Smriti Katkar, Veena Katkar, Babi Narvekar, Aruna Buyao, Rajendra Kunkolienkar, Suresh Namshikar, Sudan Shet, Anton Pereira and several known and unknown people fought to save Goa’s identity.
The mergerists Marathiwadis and the ruling MGP campaigned hard to merge Goa with Maharashtra strongly supported by leaders from Maharashtra. It is the people of Salcette especially Benaulim that turned the tables against the mergerists. It was a tough battle between the two leaves and the rose the symbols of the anti-mergerists and mergerists respectively, with finally the two leaves emerged successful at the Opinion Poll and Goa was saved.
My salute to all these soldiers who fought tirelessly to save Goan identity, on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of the historic Opinion Poll of January 16, 1967. It is celebrated in Goa as ‘Asmitai Dis’ (Identity Day).