Bandodkar--Goa's Machiavelli

Ben Antao

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 discussed.

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 offer.

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.

Ben Antao
Jan. 20, 2003


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