The Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) needs to make amends for attempting to merge Goa with Maharashtra in the past by now taking the lead to give official recognition to Opinion Poll Day, deputy speaker and Calangute MLA Michael Lobo said. Lobo said though there have been repeated demands over the years to include the Opinion Poll held in 1967 in school syllabus, and for January 16 to be accorded official recognition, the state government has failed to do so due to political compulsions, and called for a consensus on the issue. “I feel the MGP and Sudin (Ramkrishna) Dhavalikar should take the initiative. Goa is a separate state with our own assembly with 40 members only because the Opinion Poll was held and people voted to keep Goa separate. At that time, in 1967, the MGP wanted to merge Goa with Maharashtra. That was in the past. “Today, the MGP’s presence is restricted only to a couple of constituencies in the Ponda-Madkai area. I feel if the MGP takes the lead to give official recognition to the Opinion Poll and have its history taught in schools and honour the leaders who fought for the poll, then I feel the MGP will get wider support in Goa and more people would even be willing to accept Dhavalikar as the chief minister,” Lobo said. He added that he would also take the initiative. “It was a historic day. We must not forget that we are MLAs and Goa has an assembly only because we are a separate state. Otherwise we would have been in Maharashtra with one or two MLAs,” Lobo said.
Lobo offered floral tributes at the statue of the ‘Father of the Opinion Poll’, Jack de Sequeira, at Calangute. Members of the Calangute, Candolim, Arpora-Nagoa and Parra panchayats along with freedom fighters also offered tributes. Jack Sequeira Jr, grandson of Jack de Sequeira, who was present, said that his grandfather was steadfast against Goa’s merger with Maharashtra. “He had a vision for Goa and its identity. It is because Goa stayed a separate state that today we’re one of the most progressive states in India with high education levels and a high standard of living,” he said. Calangute sarpanch Shawn Martins said that Goans need to stop selling their land to non-Goans as it is the only way to maintain the Goan identity. “We’ve been demanding special status and other measures, but it is up to each one of us to do our bit. We can stop selling our land to outsiders; we can sell to other Goans instead of outsiders,” he said