Mains Paper 1: Modern Indian History | Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country
From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Goan Asmitai Dis
Mains level: Goan freedom struggle and its consolidation
- Goa celebrated its 52nd ‘Asmitai Dis’ (Identity Day) or Opinion Poll Day on January 16.
- It was on this date in 1967 that Goans voted against merging with Maharashtra and chose to remain a Union Territory.
- Though referred to as an ‘opinion poll’, the vote was in fact a plebiscite.
- Soon after Goa’s liberation from colonial Portuguese rule in 1961, murmurs began of a merger with Maharashtra on grounds of cultural similarity.
- The argument was that Konkani was a dialect of Marathi and not an independent language.
- With factions who wanted a merger with Maharashtra, a plebiscite was held.
- On January 16, 1967, Goans voted against merging with Maharashtra and chose to remain a Union Territory.
Row for Plebiscite
- Jawaharlal Nehru had promised that Goa would get to decide its own future, but he had passed away in May 1964.
- Delegations from both sides met PM Shastri in New Delhi, but Shastri himself passed away in Tashkent in January 1966, before a decision could be made.
- In May 1966, Goan protagonists succeeded in convincing new PM Indira Gandhi that Assembly elections could not be a referendum on the merger question and that an ‘opinion poll’ was necessary.
Passing the Opinion Poll Act
- In December 1966, Parliament passed the Goa, Daman and Diu (Opinion Poll Act), 1966.
- It aimed to provide for the taking of an opinion poll to ascertain the wishes of the electors of Goa, Daman and Diu with regard to the future status thereof and for matters connected therewith.
- On voting day, voters were asked to put a tick against the ‘rose’ symbol if they were in favour of a merger, and a tick against the ‘two leaves’ symbol if they were not in favour.
Goa saves itself from merger
- Poll was held on January 16, 1967 and Goa stood as independent UT.
- Soon afterward began demands for statehood for Goa; however, it was only on May 30, 1987, that Goa became India’s 25th state. Daman and Diu continue to be Union Territories.
- Konkani was included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution on August 20, 1992 (71st Amendment).
- Interestingly though, until 2018, the state government did not officially celebrate Opinion Poll Day.
- Referendum is a process by which a government refers any issue of public importance including a constitutional amendment and right to self determination to the people for the approval by popular vote.
- It is a kind of referendum held by the government on the strength of the right to self determination enjoyed by the section of people.
- The outcome of Plebiscite may or may not be legally binding on the government.
- Since it has the potential to disturb the territorial integrity of a country.