Jack de Sequeira

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Joao Hugo Eduardo de Sequeira (20 April 1915 – 17 October 1989), popularly known as Dr. Jack de Sequeira;[1] also known as Jak Siker[2] according to local naming conventions, was a prominent Goan politician and is popularly known in Goa as the Father of the Opinion Poll.[3] The father of the Opinion Poll laid the foundation for Goa's Statehood. Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and the Department of Posts released a special cover on Dr Jack de Sequeira on the occasion of Goa Statehood Day (May 30, 2015). Speaking about Dr Sequeira, the Chief Minister said, “Sequeira fought to keep Goa as a separate entity with a unique identity.” Parsekar further went on to say, “He brought in referendum to determine whether Goa should be merged with Maharashtra or not. It is only because of him that Goa got statehood on May 30, 1987.[4]

Dr. Jack de Sequeira was the founder president of the United Goans Party.[5] He played a pivotal role in convincing the government of India to hold an opinion poll to decide the issue of the merger of Goa into the state of Maharashtra.

Life[edit]

Dr. Sequeira was born in Burma (now Myanmar) on 20 April 1915, to Mr. Erasmo de Sequeira and Mrs. Ana Julia de Sa e Sequeira.[1]

After completing schooling in Portuguese medium at the Lyceum, he studied medicine at Escola Médica de Goa. However, his father died when he was 21, forcing him to discontinue studies in order to look after the family business [1]

At the age of 23, he married Lilia Margarida de Gouveia Pinto. They had nine children.[1]

He died on 17 October 1989, aged 74.[1]

Political career[edit]

Sequeira was the leader of a group known as ‘Goyncho Pokx’, which was one of the groups that later came together to form United Goans (UG) Party. He became the president of the UGP, which was an antithesis to MGP that was formed with the core ideology of merging Goa with Maharashtra. Countering this stand of MGP, the United Goans Party was formed by merging Goencho Pokx of Jack Sequeira, the Partido Indiano of Alvsaro Loyola de Furtado, the Goa National union of J M Desouza and United Fronts of Goans and Democratic Party who shared a common goal, that of separate identity for Goa, and which was against the merger of Goa with Maharashtra. Sequeira was the president of the party since its inception in 1963 till its merger with Janata Dal in 1977.[6]

Dr. Jack de Sequeira was the founder president of the United Goans Party.[5] He represented Santa Cruz assembly constituency three times. He lost in the fourth attempt in 1979 and did not contest elections again.[1]

Role in the Goa Referendum[edit]

Goa was annexed into India by an Indian Army operation on December 19, 1961. It was integrated into the Indian Union in 1962.

Goa's first polls were held on December 9, 1963.

The two main parties UGP and MGP were formed with two opposing ideologies. The MGP wanted to merge the state of Goa into the newly formed state of Maharashtra whereas UGP wanted to retain independent statehood for the former Portuguese enclaves.[7]

The United Goans Party(UGP) was formed in 1962-63 following the merger of three local parties. Dr Sequeira was its founding president [7]

Of the 30 seats in the assembly 28 belonged to Goa, and one each to Daman and Diu. MGP formed the government, having secured 16 seats while UGP secured 12.[8] The assembly of Goa, Daman and Diu convened on 9 January 1964. Dayanand Bandodkar of MGP became the first Chief Minister.

The MGP and politicians in Maharashtra were elated at the victory and touted it as a mandate that the majority of Goans were in favour of merger.

At the time of Goa’s accession into India, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had categorically stated that Goa would retain its distinct identity.[9] Following MGPs victory and the raised pitch for merger. Dr. Sequeira visited New Delhi along with his MLAs and impressed Nehru about the need of an opinion poll on this matter . However Nehru died before Parliament could take this decision and Lal Bahadur Shastri succeeded him as Prime Minister. A delegation consisting of MGP MLAs and Maharashtra’s leaders went to New Delhi to convince him that a vote on the merger should be conducted in the Goa Assembly.[10]

Dr. Sequeira, along with others went to Bangalore where an AICC session was being held and met Shastri. They opposed the move to get the merger voted in the Assembly and impressed on Shastri and Kamraj, the need to put this question before the people of Goa themselves.[10]

Dr. Sequeira shrewdly managed to get the backing of the legislators of Mysore state( now Karnataka).[11] He impressed them that if Maharashtra managed to convince the centre to merge Goa into Maharashra, it would only bolster their case for Karwar and Supa.

However Shastri died in 1966 in Tashkent and this decision was now left to the new Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Again Dr. Jack and his legislators met the new Prime Minister and submitted a memorandum that such a monumental decision affecting the future of the State could not be left to legislators alone, but should be put before the people to decide. The referendum could be conducted via a signature campaign or by secret ballot.[12] Since a large number of Goans worked outside Goa,and indeed, outside India itself as expats, UGP demanded that these expats should be allowed to vote by postal ballot. Parliament finally agreed to conduct a referendum by means of secret ballot but ruled out postal ballots.[13]

Now that the referendum would be conducted, Dr. Sequeira feared that Bandodkar may use the state’s administrative and law-enforcement machinery to browbeat the anti-mergerists into submission. The UGP demanded that the MGP government resign so that the referendum could be conducted in a free-and-fair atmosphere. On 3 December 1966, the MGP government resigned.[12]

Dr. Sequeira also traveled extensively exhorting people to vote against the merger. In this cause, he also visited places such as Colaba and Kalyan in Bombay, convincing Goans staying there to support the cause.[9]

The opinion poll was held on 16 January 1967. A total of 3,17,633 votes were polled. The merger was defeated by 34,021 votes.[14]

Remembrance[edit]

On 16 January 2007 a life sized statue of Dr. Jack was inaugurated at Calangute.[15] Another statue was inaugurated on 20 April 2007 at Dona Paula.[16] The cost of the statue was borne by his family and not by the government. A third statue will be installed in Salcette.[15]

The road from Miramar to Dona Paula & Merces junction to Merces has also been named after him.[16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]