On January 16, Goa celebrated its 52nd Asmitai Dis (Identity Day) or Opinion Poll Day. 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 effect a plebiscite.
Soon after Goa’s liberation from Portuguese rule in 1961, a divide emerged on the question of merger with Maharashtra, which was premised on claims of cultural similarity and the argument that Konkani was a dialect of Marathi, and not an independent language. The push for a merger by Dayanand Bandodkar, the first Chief Minister of Goa, Daman and Diu, faced strong opposition from sections of the press, artists, and general public.
In December 1966, Parliament passed the Goa, Daman and Diu (Opinion Poll Act), 1966, “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”.
In the poll, held on January 16, 1967, ballots from the Salcette taluka swung the result in favour of the anti-mergerists — the people of Goa rejected merger with Maharashtra and chose to remain a Union Territory by 1,72,191 votes to 1,38,170.
In 1987, Goa became India’s 25th state. Konkani was included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution in 1992. Daman and Diu continues to be a Union Territory.