Jack de Sequeira

Dr. Jack de Sequeira

Joao Hugo Eduardo de Sequeira (20 April 191517 October 1989), popularly known as Dr. Jack de Sequeira; also known as Jak Siker according to local naming conventions, was a prominent Goan politician and is popularly known in Goa as the Father of the Opinion Poll.

Dr. Jack de Sequeira was the founder president of the United Goans Party. 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

Dr. Jack was born in Burma (now Myanmar) on 20 April 1915. His parents were Mr. Erasmo de Sequeira and Mrs. Ana Julia de Sa e Sequeira.

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

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

Dr Jack expired on 17 October 1989. He was 74 years old .

Political career

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

The Goa Opinion Poll and Dr. Jack's role

Goa was liberated by the Indian Army on December 19, 1961. Goa 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.

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

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. . The assembly of Goa , Damman 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 . Following MGPs victory and the raised pitch for merger. Dr. Jack visited New Delhi along with his MLAs and impressed Nehru about the need of an opinion poll on this matter . However he passed away before Parliament could take this decision could be taken 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.

Dr Jack, 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 .

Dr. Jack shrewdly managed to get the backing of the legislators of Mysore state(now Karnataka). 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. 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 .

Now that the referendum would be conducted , Dr. Jack 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 .

Dr. Jack 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 .

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 .

Remembrance

On 16 January 2007 a life sized statue of Dr. Jack was innaugurated at Calangute . Another statue was innaugurated on 20 April 2007 at Donna Paula . The cost of the statue was borne by his family and not by the government. A third statue will be installed in Salcette. The road from Miramar to Merces Junction has also been named after him.

See also

References

External links

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