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Adios to Victoria Fernandes, “Mummy” – The Pioneer of the Opinion Poll in Goa

Goans across the state are today both mourning and celebrating the life of “Mummy” as she was so fondly named. With a humble personality,
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Goans across the state are today both mourning and celebrating the life of “Mummy” as she was so fondly named. With a humble personality, she is revered amongst the masses, earning people’s love and respect and with her demise, Goans have lost an important jewel in society. 

I have only met her a few times, but on each occasion, I saw the warmth in her personality and realized the secret behind her popularity in the masses. She had been working for the betterment of the society until she drew her last breath. Despite her health issues, she had led the movement against the IT Park that was supposed to be set up in St. Cruz, posing a danger to the ecosystem of the surrounding area. 

Although Mummy was active in politics for several decades,  she was never inclined towards it initially. She used to enjoy helping people in need and she would fight against any injustice for anyone in need of it.

According to reports, Mummy was inspired by the tales of Florence Nightingale, Jhansi Ki Rani, St Maria Goretti and Joan of Arc. She initially wanted to be a nun, but later decided to become a nurse.

The name  Victoria came into the media first time for her involvement in the Opinion Poll that began in the year 1967. “The Opinion Poll struggle was like a mission for all of us. We worked all through the day and night and succeeded in retaining Goa’s identity,” Victoria had told TOI in one interview that was conducted a few days before the state celebrated the golden jubilee of the Opinion Poll. 

Mummy had the power of mobilizing the people and that is what made her one of the key activists in the struggle of Opinion Poll. She played a significant role in the triumph. Be it rallying people or storming jails, she was right at the forefront and even helped convince some hardcore pro-merger supporters. 

“Initially, I was tasked with South Goa which had a huge Catholic influence, but I wanted to work in the north. There were certain areas that were inaccessible. They were really hostile,” she had told the media.

Final Rites on Victoria Fernandes with National Flag

According to one report published in Times of India, even when the Council of Action, a non-party organization, formed to preserve Goa’s identity, launched satyagraha (a truth movement) to bring down the MGP government and resolve the burning issue of Goa’s separate identity in 1966, it was Victoria who inspired a flood of satyagrahis. She led a group of 280 satyagrahis, an overwhelming majority of them women, defied the orders of prohibition from the state government and happily courted arrest.       

Nothing could stop Mummy from fighting against the odds of society. In the mid-80s when Goa was fighting for the survival of the Konkani Language, Mummy remained at the forefront of the state-wide agitation. “There isn’t a single mass movement in Goa after Liberation in which Victoria did not participate. Victoria has always been a vanguard,” writer Dilip Borkar noted in ‘Flower of Fire’, a book that was published as a tribute to Victoria on her 60th birthday in 1994. 

Goan lost Mummy on the 7th September, she suffered cardiac arrest and breathed her last in the private clinic in the city. Her last rites were done with the salute of 21-Gun fire, firing the three volleys from rifles, this is one of the highest respect given the national leaders in India.

Her funeral was attended by all the political leaders from Goa regardless of their political affiliates. Mummy may not be there today amongst us, but her work will always keep inspiring Goans to fight for the truth and their rights. Adios Mummy!! Rest in Peace

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