Goa's first chief minister Dayanand Bandodkar may not have heard of
Italy's Nicola Machiavelli or read the latter's book the Prince, but for
all practical purposes Bandodkar was a master manipulator. A businessman
and opportunist of the first order, Bandodkar grew to become a political
lackey of Maharashtra and literally worshipped his idols, V.P. Naik, chief
minister of Maharashtra in the early 60's, and Y. B. Chavan, also former
chief minister of Maharashtra, who successfully engineered Bombay to
become the capital of a separate state of Maharashtra after the
reorganization of Indian states in 1956.
Both Naik and Chavan, who would later become Defence Minister in the
central government, had orchestrated the loud and ringing "Zalach Pahije"
slogan for a separate Maharashtra in the late 50's. Now after the
liberation of Goa, they found a willing boot-licker in Bandodkar and gave
him another merger slogan called "Vilinikaran zalach pahije."
Fate played an ironic role in launching Bandodkar's career into politics
that even the gods in the Hindu pantheon would cringe with envy. Basking
in the adoration of Naik and Chavan, the petty god bestirred himself to
deliver Goa to Maharashtra as elections to Goa's first legislative
assembly were announced in the fall of 1963.
Bandodkar knew that the Congress party was inundated with candidates
seeking Congress tickets. Most of the candidates were freedom fighters,
but a few like Vaicuntrao Dempo bought their tickets by making huge
donations to the party.
To make sure that a majority of Congress candidates were for merger,
Bandodkar made a bold maneuver - although uninvited and not seeking a
Congress ticket, he walked into a meeting at Dr. Pundalik Gaitonde's
residence in Mapusa where the names of potential candidates were being
According to Dr. Jose Francisco Martins, a Congress candidate at the
meeting, Bandodkar arrived with a proposal that out of 28 candidates, 18
should be for merger. If not, he was going to form a new party. Also he
offered to get Gaitonde elected and give him the chief ministership if he
joined his party. Gaitonde would not betray his conscience and refused the
Thus Bandodkar came to form his Maharashtrawadi Gomantak party with
candidates that the Congress had refused tickets, such names as V.
N.Lawande, Tony Fernandes, and V. Karmali.
Bandodkar did not seek election, but when his MG party won 14 seats to the
United Goans' 12, the gods smiled on his again. The 14 MLA's wanted him to
become chief minister and he did. Later he got elected in a by-election.
However, his machinations and deep desire for merger were thwarted by the
combined forces of the Congress and UG parties at the Opinion Poll of
January 16. 1967.
But Bandodkar had already done his worst-he had divided Goa into communal
factions of Christians and Hindus. A greater Machiavelli than Bandodkar
would be hard pressed to find anywhere in post-liberation Goa.
Dr. Martins describes the shenanigans of Bandodkar in his memoir titled In
Search of Self-fulfillment published by his son Sushruta in 1997.
Jan. 20, 2003
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