On August 12, we observed the death anniversary of our Goa’s first Chief Minister Dayanand Bandodkar. He assumed office on December 20, 1963, and continued as Chief Minister till his sudden death on August 12, 1973, except for the 127 days of President’s Rule from December 2, 1966, to April 5, 1967. Affectionately referred to by all as ‘Bhausaheb’ he was undoubtedly the best Chief Minister we have had.
Memories linger when at the age of 12 as a school student, I had the privilege of interacting with Dayanand Bandodkar at his Altinho residence. That same year it was so nice to see the Chief Minister arriving in his yellow Buick without any police escort jeeps at Ribandar as the Chief Guest for the finals of our football tournament. Also recollect with nostalgia witnessing those great debates in the Legislative Assembly and Dayanand Bandodkar’s pointed and witty replies. Today very sadly the Legislative assembly has been reduced to a mere uninspiring classroom while on the sinking level of muzzled debates less said the better.
Though Dayanand Bandodkar may have initially been for the merger of Goa with Maharashtra, he respected the people’s verdict in that 1967 Opinion Poll and toiled with a vision and passion towards the all-round development of Goa. As Chief Minister, he cared to heed to the advice and guidance given by his officers. But today officials who don’t tow the skewed directions given by those in power have to face the brunt and are hounded away.
Dayanand Bandodkar as a friend and carer of the poor with a vision laid the sound foundation of Goa’s progress which he very ably managed, including Daman and Diu with just two ministers during his first term and later three. He then also did not have all these corporations to dish away the chairmanship as pacifiers to keep MLAs content.
Unlike many of today’s politicians who are self-centered, Dayanand Bandodkar relentlessly raised and pursued issues concerning the backward, down-trodden and neglected communities. Leaders of his integrity, honesty and commitment we may rarely see in today’s shoddy arena of political pygmies.
Our first Chief Minister dared to speak from his heart and always walked the talk. Only a few of such politicians still remain in our midst and will also be always remembered for the good done.
It is so very distressing and agonizing to witness the continuing rampant destruction and devastation of Goa. With the hills and fields fast vanishing, our State is sadly by the day just getting further disfigured beyond recognition. It should have been the endeavor of those in power to at least now salvage and safeguard for posterity what remains of Goa.
Our students need to be made aware of the very rich and invaluable contribution to Goa by our first Chief Minister Dayanand Bandodkar who cannot be consigned as our forgotten hero. He must be rolling in heavenly abode at the way Goa is being uncaringly misgoverned today.
Every year our leaders pay cosmetic floral tributes to the late Dayanand Bandodkar. All this is merely symbolic, as true respect to Goa’s first Chief Minister would have been to carry forward his mission and vision for Goa which those in power have miserably failed.
(The writer is a lawyer and social activist)