Opinion Poll had many Fathers; not One: Bhembre

GOANEWS DESK, PANAJI | 17 January 2014 14:23 IST

Goa’s historic Opinion Poll did not have one but many fathers and those 1.72 lakh people who voted for independent identity of Goa are the ultimate fathers of Opinion Poll, said Adv Uday Bhembre, one of the leaders of the Opinion Poll of 1967.

He was speaking at Asmitai Dis function organised by Jait Prakashan where he, along with three others, were felicitated.

It included former minister Victoria Fernandes, Raul Bose and Sadanand Kanekar.

Bhembre, while recalling Opinion Poll days, also flayed BJP government as well as all the 40 MLAs for not remembering the most historic day, due to which they could today sit in its own Assembly and run its own government.

A dispute in post-liberation Goa whether to merge it in neighbouring Maharashtra or maintain it as an independent entity was resolved by holding India’s sole plebiscite, on 16 January 1967.

The plebiscite – known as Opinion Poll – was won with 1,72,191 people voting for separate entity while 1,38,170 voting for the merger.

It was 54 per cent versus 44 per cent voting, winning the plebiscite by 34,021 votes.

While observing 47th anniversary of this historic day, Bhembre spoke at length on the ongoing controversy of who is the real father of Opinion Poll.

A section of society claims that Jack Sequeira, the leader of the United Goans Party and then opposition leader, was the Father of Opinion Poll.

“It is not proper to name one person as Father of Opinion Poll as this struggle was spearheaded by five different groups”, said Bhembre.

Bhembre’s column ‘Brahmastra’ in ‘Rashtramat’ had also played a major role in convincing the Hindu Bahujan Samaj against the merger.

A group of young writers and activists including Bhembre had started ‘Rashtramat,’ a daily in Marathi, to counter the propaganda in favour of the merger.

According to Bhembre, there were total five groups working tirelessly and sincerely to convince the people to keep Goa separate.

Besides Sequeira’s UGP and their ‘Rashtramat’ group of young writers and activists, Shabu Desai from Cuncolim had moved with a Mashal (torch) all over Goa, Ulhas Buyao and his cultural group with Jai Gomantak Kala Pathak and the Indian National Congress Party.

“All were working separately and no effort was made to bring all these groups together”, said Bhembre.

However, he said, the unknown faces of the people from different areas had taken initiative in bringing these groups together by organizing meetings, which were addressed by all these groups together.

 

“I still remember two such meetings held at Kakoda and Usgao after 11 pm and still people were sitting in the open field to listen to all of us and know the issue properly”, he recalled.

While not undermining the role of Jack Sequeira, he said his role was comparatively quite easy as he led the Christian community, which was strongly against the merger.

The other groups, he said, however had to face lots of humiliation, disruption and even stoning of their meetings in Hindu-dominated belt.

“If you ask me, the real Fathers of Opinion Poll were those 1.72 lakh people, who voted for separate Goa. I salute all of them”, said 74-year old Bhembre.

He also recalled a meeting with then chief minister Bhausaheb Bandodkar, the leader of the merger movement, who had called three of them to discuss the issue over lunch at his Altinho bungalow.

Besides him, he said the meeting was attended by Chandrakant Keni and Gharse of ‘Rashtramat’.

“Bhau tried to convince us how Goa would dominate Maharashtra once it is merged, but became silent when we asked how it was possible with only two MLAs from Goa and one district from among 28 districts and only 8 lakh Goans against 8 crore Maharashtrians”, recalled Udaybab, as he is widely known.

He did not believe the theory that Bhau was also convinced at later stage that merger was dangerous for Goa, but said it was also a fact that he accepted the Opinion Poll verdict without any further moves to merge Goa into Maharashtra.

Udaybab also disclosed that Sequeira had strongly demanded Statehood for Goa as another option against merger, but the central leaders convinced him for Union Territory stating that Goa would get central funds for development.

“The most important historic days for Goa are 19 December 1961 (Goa Liberation), 16 January 1967 (Opinion Poll), 4 February 1987 (Konkani Official Language) and 30 May 1987 (Statehood for Goa)”, said Udaybab. 


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Given the state of affairs in Goa today, with rising costs, crimes, land grab , corruption, concretisation, slums etc etc, I am sure many Goans and proud to be one too, would like Goa to be an Independent nation.

The current rulers of Goa are all Puppets& servants of their New Delhi Masters.

Much of Goa`s equitable wealth has been sucked out by the "Delhi Gangsters" aided by their corrupt Goan stooges.

It sometimes seems like the "Delhi Boys" throw a few bananas down Goa`s way, and the "Goan political Monkeys" have a feast day.

- N.Fernandes, London | 18 th January 2014 14:28

 

With the same logic, there were hundred of thousands of Indians who fought for the freedom of India. So why should Mahatma Gandhi be named as father of our nation.

- Adriano Pinto, Goa | 17 th January 2014 23:32

 

Gos will forever be obliged to Udaybab and his colleagues who worked tirelessly to stop Goa from being treated as substandard region of Maharashra. Even today many people from that state smirk at Goa and Goans but do not want to leave Goa.

As far as late Mr Bandoidkar is concerned my uncle and a friend of late Mr. Purushottam Kakodkar had told me (in 1973 six years after the Opinion Poll) that indeed Bandodkar was disillusioned with prospects of the merger in the later days before Opinion Poll. He contributed by taking deliberate wrong decisions during those days

- Kalidas Sawkar, Panaji Goa | 17 th January 2014 17:14

 

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