January 16, better known as Opinion Poll Day or ‘Asmitai Dis’ (Identity Day) in Goa, is an important day in the history of Goa because it was on this day, in 1967, that the people of Goa voted against a merger with Maharashtra, opting instead to remain a Union Territory.
The 1967 Goa status referendum was backed by the United Goans Party, and offered the people of Goa a choice between continuing as a separate territory of India, or merging with the large Marathi-speaking state of Maharashtra. It is the only referendum to be held in independent India.
Dr Jack de Sequeira who was a prominent figure on Goa’s political scene in the 60s and 70s, and was Goa’s first opposition leader, is popularly known in Goa as the Father of the Opinion Poll.
He was the founder president of the United Goans Party (UGP) and was instrumental in convincing the government of India to hold an opinion poll to decide the issue of merging Goa with the state of Maharashtra.
SOME FACTS ABOUT DR JACK DE SEQUEIRA:
Dr Jack de Sequeira was born João Hugo Eduardo de Sequeira in Burma (now Myanmar) on April 20, 1915.
His parents were Erasmo de Sequeira and Ana Julia de Sa e Sequeira.
After completing his schooling in Portuguese at the Lyceum, he studied medicine at the Escola Médico-Cirúrgica da Goa (later known as the Goa Medical College).
His father passed away when he was 21, due to which Jack de Sequeira had to give up his medical career in order to look after the family business, Agencia E Sequeira.
At age 23, he married Lilia Margarida de Gouveia Pinto and they had nine children.
Dr Jack de Sequeira was the founder president of the United Goans Party, which came into being in 1962-63. He represented the Santa Cruz assembly constituency three times, but lost in his fourth attempt in 1979.
The crucial opinion poll was held on January 16, 1967, during which a total of 3,17,633 votes were polled. The merger was defeated by 34,021 votes.
He breathed his last on October 17, 1989, aged 74.