The Issue of Vishal Gomantak

By Tomazinho Cardozo

Soon after the Liberation of Goa in 1961, there were numerous views concerning the future of Goa. There were some who wanted Goa to be merged into Maharashtra, there were others who desired that the Konkani speaking areas of Karnataka and Maharashtra be added to Goa, and its geographical boundaries be increased to form Vishal Gomantak and there were many whose aim was to make Goa a separate state without touching its geographical boundaries. The voices proposing the merger of Goa with Maharashtra were becoming increasingly louder so also were the voices of for keeping Goa a separate state. The demand for Vishal Gomantak took a back seat at that time.

In order to solve the issue of merger of Goa with Maharashtra, the government of India conducted an opinion poll. It was the first and the last opinion poll so far in the history of independent India. The opinion poll was held to decide whether Goa was to be merged into Maharashtra or to be retained as a union territory. Goans overwhelmingly voted against the merger and retained it as a union territory. The question of merger was solved democratically once and for all. In fact this was the beginning of fulfilling a cherished dream of Goans - the achievement of a separate statehood for Goa. This happened with the passing of years. After a long and fierce agitation - the biggest ever agitation in the history of Goa so far - Konkani was accorded the status of the official language of Goa. Immediately thereafter, Goa was declared a separate state of the Union of India. Today, Goa continues to be one of the best states in the country.

True Goans, who love their land and are proud of their Goan identity, were of the opinion that all the problems - merger of Goa into Maharashtra or the formation of Vishal Gomantak - were over and that Goans would now be able to concentrate on the development of Goa. In fact the same process is going on. Goans are increasingly becoming very active citizens. They have not left everything in the hands of the politicians. When it comes to deciding about the development of Goa they are very conscious and wish to develop Goa in a manner that will not destroy its environment and unique identity. The agitation against the Regional Plan 2011 is still fresh in our minds. The government had to withdraw RP2011, bowing down to the wishes of the people. The enlightened citizenry of Goa has once again come together to oppose the proposed setting up of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Goa mainly because it will destroy Goa's environment and the Goan identity besides bring with it many other evils.

While such intense efforts for are on we hear a few voices demanding the formation of Vishal Gomantak by adding the Konkani speaking areas of Maharashtra and Karnataka to Goa. Unlike the earlier demand for merger of Goa into Maharashtra, the demand for Vishal Gomantak is made not by the people of the state but by a few writers of Konkani, some of them are the sons of the soil of Goa and many are from the neighbouring areas. Goan politicians are involved in this move because many of the Goan politicians, who fought for the merger of Goa into Maharashtra in 1967, today admit that it was their mistake then. They have realised the importance of Goa being a separate state within its exiting boundaries. The politicians from the other side of Goa's boundaries too are not interested in changing the geographical boundaries of their states - Maharashtra and Karnataka. This voice for the formation of Vishal Gomantak has come from a literary body called the All India Konkani Parishad (AIKP). Sometime back, as reported in the press, AIKP in its meeting held in Karwar passed a unanimous resolution demanding the formation of Vishal Gomantak. Many Konkani writers from Goa were a part of that meeting. As reported, it was a unanimous decision. If so, do we consider that all the Goan Konkani writers who attended that meeting are in favour of Vishal Gomantak? If not, why were dissenting voices not heard at all? Why have the other Konkani writers from Goa not opposed this move outright? Are they too for Vishal Gomantak?

The history of liberated Goa is very clear. Any attempt to destroy the uniqueness of Goa was fought tooth and nail by the Goans in the past. Today also they are fighting against their own government to save Goa from destruction. All shades of Goans, irrespective of caste, creed and religion, stood united and defeated the anti-Goan forces. The idea of Vishal Gomantak needs to be nipped in the bud. A handful of promoters of Vishal Gomantak should not be allowed to create a disturbance in the Goan society. The Goan society today is on the warpath. It is determined to protect Goa from all evils. Naturally an evil like Vishal Gomantak will never be tolerated by Goa - loving Goans.

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