The Dr Barbosa: You did not know

By Radharao Gracias
12 October 2011 22:13 IST

There was in the years, following liberation a strong undercurrent, to the effect, that no Catholic is entitled to be the Chief Minister of the State. It was reasoned, that the Catholics had ruled for 450 years and it was the turn of the Hindus. And so, it was for nearly three decades under the rabidly anti Catholic, anti Brahmin MGP and later the Congress. By the dawn of the 1990s, the MGP realized that they could never come back to power, without support from the Catholic community and changed its stance.

Seven Catholic members from the Congress, with the active instigation of the MGP, broke away under the leadership of Dr.Luis Proto Barbosa. It was to be the first successful revolt in Goa’s post liberation democracy. K.B.Naik had failed in the seventies Dr.Wilfred D’Souza in the eighties.

Dr.Luis Proto Barbosa was the first person to untie the Gordian knot. And he did so, majestically. Later, the D’Souzas, the Sardinhas and the Faleiros would cross the rubicon (the Mandovi if you please). Others too tried and some drowned in the process. In actual reality, as Dr.Barbosa was the Speaker, for technical and tactical reasons, it was Churchill Alemao, who had to do the Gulzari Lal Nanda.

Dr.Barbosa, opened the way. Tragically, those who followed him have messed up the path, carved by the good old doctor. The PDF govt. was a wonderful experiment, in seeking the elusive Hindu-Catholic unity. It failed, because of greed. The MGP, after having come to power could not digest a Catholic leader. The betrayal followed, although not unexpectedly, for a party professing Hindutuva.

I was in fact a beneficiary of the betrayal. I was elected to the Assembly in the vacancy arising out of his unconscionable disqualification.

Dr.Barbosa belonged to the old school of leaders, dedicated to service. He was elected for three successive terms, after liberation and his further elections were to be mere formalities. There was no challenge for him in Cortalim. And yet in the year 1977, he gracefully withdrew to enable his friend late Speaker of the Assembly Froilano Machado to contest. Two terms later he was back after late Machado with equal grace made way for him. Can you imagine anyone else doing it?

The elections in 1989, when Dr.Barbosa contested from newly created Loutolim Constituency were hotly contested. I was one of those who campaigned against the Congress. He won, by a narrow margin and graced the chair of the Chief Minister about three months later.

A group of his former detractors from Verna, visited him at his residence for some work. He bade them in, made them sit. He then called out to his maid, “There are eggs in the fridge. Make an omlette, for my friends from Verna”. It was said with such aplomb. The visitors, realized the implications. That was Dr.Barbosa, at his very best.

The jibe, was Dr.Barbosa’s response to the group who had vehemently opposed him and hurled eggs at him, at a meeting in Verna three months earlier. Having made his point Dr.Barbosa listened to the group and issued instructions for immediate redressal. He held no vengeance.

As I see it Dr.Barbosa was no politician. He was a doctor. And this much is obvious. For his son Noel is also a doctor. And a wonderfully caring one known to be available to patients at low tide or high noon. Had Dr.Barbosa been a politician, his son would have been one too. By now, he would be a contender for a ticket somewhere !

After Dr.Barbosa said bye to politics or rather politics said bye to Dr.Barbosa, he retired to his farm. Nothing surprising. After all most politicians do so. But Dr.Barbosa retired to his ancestral land at the foot of Remedios Hill in Cuelim. And that’s the difference. He acquired no estate after such a long a stint in politics. Is there anyone to match?

Dr.Barbosa was a warrior like his ancestors. Fittingly, he got the funeral of a warrior. The last post, the gun salute is something he would perhaps not care for. But none, deserved it more. If the Catholic version of heaven is a reality, then, Dr.Barbosa must be at peace, somewhere out there. Right now, perhaps he must be busy spreading cheer around with his imposing presence and commanding voice, the like of which Goans may not see, for a long time, to come.

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Radharao Gracias

Radharao F.Gracias is a senior Trial Court lawyer and ex President of the South Goa Advocates Association. He is also former independent MLA of Goa. He has been an activist on issues related to Goa for more than three decades.

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