The New Year is certainly not a good time that the Goa Forward Party has been going through. Their honest attempt to draw attention to the fifty year old event of the Opinion Poll and then get the statue of Dr Jack Sequeira installed at assembly complex seems to have run them down. BJP’s adverse reaction to the demand will certainly poke a hole in the Common Minimum Program that the State government was supposed to work on.
The enthusiasm around Opinion Poll Day will never go in vain. The event is of such importance to the State of Goa that it needs to be discussed about, analysed about, taught about, and also recalled about. It was a day which made us what we are today.
While all this time around, the Opinion Poll Day and Dr. Sequeira remained in oblivion, the attempt to speak about it has brought it into limelight that it rightly deserves. If any single political party wants to derive political mileage out of it, I feel there is nothing wrong in it. Congress and BJP over the years have failed to admire and celebrate this day, so the party that has took up the cudgels deserved to be given the credit.
Very few people in Goa knew what exactly happened during the Opinion Poll movement. Several myths were being circulated about this day while there was no knowledge of how we were saved from being merged into Maharashtra by a margin of just four per cent votes. If that marginal vote bank had to shift, then today, I would have been sitting in some Panaji town of Maharashtra and waiting for years to see the real development.
Renowned Journalist Uday Bhembre recalls how on the first day, pro-mergers were celebrating their victory, while ‘two-leaves’ symbol was trailing. It was Benaulim constituency that turned the tables, and then the results started showing in favour of anti-merger.
The minute details of Opinion Poll are documented in various books including the one written by Konkani writer Sadanand Kanekar, but they have to be passed on to the next generations. The history has to be taught in its real sense.
Back to the State politics, the way BJP has been reacting to the installation of the statue is an unwanted gesture. Their opposition to installation of statue of Dr. Jack Sequeira comes with the excuse that we already have a statue of Goa’s First Chief Minister Dayanand Bandodkar and we don’t require any statues. They also have come up with the excuse that there were so many leaders who contributed for the Goa’s liberation, Opinion poll and other movements, and there would be a demand for installation of their statues too in the assembly complex.
This excuse is bizarre. And even if one admits that their contention is right, there is nothing wrong in having statues of great personalities around. It is much better than having many of our elected corrupt representatives who had and have donned the chairs in ministerial chambers.
The rejection of a statue symbolizes BJP’s take on Goa’s socio-political history. Dr Jack Sequeira was not just another leader. He was also the First Leader of Opposition of Goa.
It is utter shameful that Goa have been divided on the issue of installing the statue. I remember the famous dialogue from Rajkumar Hirani’s movie ‘Lage Raho Munnabhai’ where he says that if people want they can destroy all the statues of Mahatma Gandhi, but they should always keep his preaching in their heart. The movie was hilarious but the message it gave through some of its dialogues is touching and worth reflecting upon.
Installation of Dr Jack Sequeira’s statue may be just a gesture to pay homage to this person who was having larger than life charisma. But the biggest tribute to him would be to take ahead his strong pro-Goa sentiments and his vision.
The vision of Sequeira and others including Ulhas Buyao, Purushottam Kakodkar, Shabu Desai needs to be turned into reality by the current crop of politicians. We would be lucky if someone draws maximum political mileage from the Opinion Poll movement and works towards fulfillment of their vision.
Goa has been losing its identity over the years. While we saved Goa from being merged into Maharashtra, we have invited everyone here indirectly merging our ethnicity, culture and language. No serious attempts were made by our politicians including those who are in the opposition to ensure that Goa does not lose its identity. We are at the mercy of strong Delhi lobby who are dictating terms to us.
The recent resurgence of Mhadei issue is one such example of how Delhi is controlling our powers. We want our regional parties to be really emerging as our torch bearers, not surrendering themselves to the national politics.
Merely speaking about Regionalistic politics won’t serve the purpose till you demonstrate to the people, the power of being a regional party. It is a challenge that Vijai Sardesai and his team is facing. MGP is enjoying the fruits of its glory of yesteryears and has ceased to be a regional party in the real sense. They are still holding up to their past. In these circumstances, there is no sign of any new regional party coming up in the forefront. The miniscule political parties which mushroom in the run up for the election, hibernate during the rest of the time.
Dr Jack Sequeira does not only symbolizes the opinion poll movement. He symbolizes how the Goan leadership should be. I would not be wrong, if I say that Bandodkar and Sequeira were perfect example of how Goan leaders should be.