16th January : Asmitai Dis (Identity Day) in Goa.

16th January is observed as Asmitai Dis (Identity Day) in Goa. On this day in 1967, the people of Goa voted against the referendum seeking Goa's merger with Maharashtra. Here is a brief review of the developments in this regard.

Although India became independent in 1947, people of Goa had to wait till 1961 to be a part of it. Goa had been under Portuguese rule for more than three centuries. A public agitation supported by military invasion by Indian military led to liberation of Goa. But by 1961, reorganization of states was done on linguistic basis. This had led to formation of Maharashtra following a prolonged agitation for greater Maharashtra (Samyukta Maharashtra movement) for Marathi speaking people. Goa along with Daman and Diu became a union territory.

The the ruling Maharashtravadi Gomantak Party (MGP), led by Dayanand Bandodkar was pressing for merger of Goa with Maharashtra on the argument that Konkani, Goa's main language is a dialect of Marathi. However, the main opposition party, United Goans Party (UGP) was against the merger fearing a inferior treatment to Goans by the Maharashtrians. Its leader, Dr. Jack de Sequeira convinced the Congress government in the center to hold an opinion poll.

The Goa Poll was the referendum offered two options:

1. To remain a Union Territory of India. Or

2. To merge Goa with Maharastra; and Daman and Diu with Gujarat.

This historic poll was held on 16th January, 1967. The result of the opinion poll was a setback to MGP. The anti-mergerists won by a margin of more than 10% despite the numerical superiority of Hindus who were by and large for merger. Although, Goa did not merge, it had to wait till 1987 to become a full fledged state. Konkani was later included in 8th Schedule of the Constitution.


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