Pro-merger people running Goa government: Vijai Sardesai

He was addressing a function on Wednesday at Margao in South Goa district, on the eve of the anniversary of Goa's historic referendum in 1967

Vijay Sardesai. (Twitter handle)

Former Goa deputy chief minister, Vijai Sardesai has claimed that the state government was being run by people who wanted a merger of the state with Maharashtra.

The Goa Forward Party (GFP) president also alleged that attempts at "reverse merger" were being made by "adding areas of Maharashtra like Dodamarg" into Goa.

He was addressing a function on Wednesday at Margao in South Goa district, on the eve of the anniversary of Goa's historic referendum in 1967.

The referendum on whether to merge Goa with the neighbouring state was held on January 16, 1967. The then ruling Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) was in favour of becoming a part of Maharashtra, but leaders from various other parties opposed it.

Sardesai said the current Pramod Sawant-led government has not organised any official function to celebrate the anniversary of the 'Opinion Poll Day'.

During the referendum in 1967, 54 per cent of the state's population voted against the merger, he claimed.

"It was not a thumping majority, it was a simple majority. The 43 per cent who supported the merger are in the government, that is why the government has not organised a single state-level function to commemorate the day," he said.

Sardesai, whose party was part of the BJP-led Goa government till July 2019 when its ministers were dropped from the Sawant-led cabinet, alleged that attempts at "reverse merger" were being made by "adding areas of Maharashtra" like Dodamarg into Goa.

The GFP leader also said that those who were defeated in the 1967 referendum have always been trying to subjugate Goans through their actions, like opposing the demand for official language status to Konkani language.

Some leaders from Dodamarg in Maharashtra's Sindhudurg district adjoining the Goa border have been demanding merger of the tehsil with the coastal state.

In November last year, Sardesai accused Pramod Sawant of buying huge tracts of lands in Dodamarg and said the chief minister supported the demand for its merger with Goa.

Sawant, however, said his purchase of property in Dodamarg was perfectly legal and that he does not support the demand for its merger with Goa. 

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