Fifty one years after Goa was liberated from Portuguese rule, a former Chief Minister has raked up a controversy alleging that the "opinion poll" held 46 years ago to decide on making it a separate state or merge with Maharashtra was "rigged."
Shashikala Kakodkar, a former state Chief Minister herself and daughter of Goa's first CM Dayanand Bandodkar, claimed yesterday that the "opinion poll" conducted by the Centre on January 16, 1967, was "rigged."
The "opinion poll" was held to seek a choice for people of Goa, then recently liberated from Portuguese rule, whether to remain as an independent state or merge with neighbouring Maharashtra.
Kakodkar, whose father then supported the merger, alleged that the opinion poll was "farce." Bandodkar was in favour of the merger of Goa with Maharashtra.
"The opinion poll was farce, there was lot of cheating. Luizinho Faleiro (a former Chief Minister) himself at a public function confessed that he voted in the poll despite being only 15-years-old then," she pointed out, adding that "Faleiro voted twice."
The controversy over opinion poll began yesterday during the 'Legislator's Day' function organised by the state government to commemorate 50 years of the first Goa Legislative Assembly session.
On the occasion, Kakodkar further alleged that people from outside the state were brought to vote for the opinion poll by the anti-merger lobby.
The issue raked up when anti-merger leader and former MLA Radharao Gracias criticised Bandodkar during the function.
Gracias alleged that "Bandodkar was all out to destroy Goa."
He hailed the then Leader of Opposition Jack de Sequeira for protecting Goa. "Today if we are here and celebrating 50 years of legislation, it is because of the leadership of Jack de Sequeira," he said, adding that "Bandodkar was out to destroy Goa by merging it with Maharashtra."
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who was present at the function, refrained from commenting on the debate.
"I am not going into the controversy. We cannot afford to forget the contribution of Bandodkar. I heard that one of the reasons why people voted in favour of remaining independent was because they did not want to lose Bandodkar as a Chief Minister," he said.