On 'Opinion Poll Day', Goa mulls how to preserve identity

Panaji, Jan 16 (PTI) Even as Goa commemorated 'Opinion Poll Day' on Thursday, which kept the identity of the state intact, concerns are being raised in certain quarters about the tourist paradise losing its distinct character due to inflow of migrants.

In the first-ever public referendum in independent India, Goa voted to remain a separate entity on January 16, 1967, refusing the idea of its merger with neighbouring Maharashtra.

When we campaigned against the merger in the run-up to the Opinion Poll, the idea was to nurture Goa as a model state for the entire country.

'The concept was to save identity of the state, renowned writer and journalist Uday Bhembre, one of the stalwarts of anti-merger movement, told PTI.

He said considering the increasing dilution of Goas identity, fear looms large whether the main objective of staying 'independent' is being defeated.

Bhembre said policies of subsequent Goagovernments, which encouraged migration into the state, is one of the reasons for erosion of the state's identity.

The locals who have been selling their properties to 'outsiders' are also equally responsible for this dilution of identity', he said.

Similar sentiments were echoed by Goa Congress chief Girish Chodankar, who held Goans responsible for increasing erosion of the state's identity.

I would hold everyone responsible for it. Goans are responsible and also politicians, each one has contributed in their own way, Chodankar said.

Chodankar said a small state like Goa should be beware of 'big landsharks' which are increasingly purchasing valuable assets which should have been preserved for posterity.

BJP leader and former Member of Parliament Narendra Sawaikar said migration in and out of the state cannot be controlled as it has been a part of development process.

But what is important is that we should be able to preserve our identity amidst this migration, he said.

Sawaikar said it is for the locals to preserve the identity and culture of Goa, notwithstanding the influx of people from other states, which is bound to happen. PTI RPS RSY RSY