An Idea called Matanhy

By Dr Oscar Rebelo
23 March 2012 15:14 IST

This comparison may seem way over the top and a little too fawning, but in the Goan context and narrative it certainly holds true and resonates more loudly than ever.

After Gandhi was assassinated, the man died but the Idea of Gandhi not just lived on but multiplied and prospered a million fold. An idea of non violence and peace: of secularism and the truth. You could not kill the Gandhi   Idea.

Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968. His tragic death however spurred the Black agenda so furiously that  in a short span of 40 years that tornado swept in a Black President into the White House. You just could not kill the Luther Idea !

So too with our very own Matanhy. Death snatched him away at arguably Goa’s most critical tipping point. But his Idea beams across just as reassuringly as his smile. An idea of environment protection and sustainable development; of a deep respect for human rights and universal brotherhood; of unwavering loyalty and spotless integrity. Try as you might you can never kill the Matanhy Idea.

And that’s why Matanhy, is the stand out Goan; simply because he did not live for himself. He devoted his entire life to the cause of the Idea of Goa!

And why is it that we weep so inconsolably? Why does this searing wound bleed so profusely?  Why is it that the pain seem so traumatic?

Is it only because Matanhy’s no longer physically there with us? No, it’s because the Idea of Matanhy is about “US”. It is who we are. It is our genetic constitution, our blood type and in his death we feel that it is this, that is being wrenched away from us. Amputated away from our body.

But the pain will be transient. It cannot last forever because it is simply an illusion that the Idea of Matanhy is being torn away from our being.  It is alive and throbbing as we  pick ourselves up to fight the next fight it will always sustain us.

And we will smile again. In triumph. In reverence. For Matanhy! For Ourselves!

There will be reams written about Matanhy. The man and his mission. I would like to deconstruct  three popular myths about him.

1)    Joining the BJP was his unforgivable  and  opportunistic mistake

Fed as  I am on a rigorous diet of the BJP being a bunch of trishul wielding, mosque destroying  crazy communalists, I had asked Matanhy how he even dreamt of actually joining the BJP. Support from outside, yes, but head long into the BJP?? It didn’t add up.

His answer was a simple demolition of this famous myth Punn Dotor hi aamge BJP, he aamge bhav mure”. His answer was simple as it was profound.

He saw the BJP in Goa not through the lens of its ideology or even its local leaders. He went beyond. He connected with the BJP voter. The simple, nature loving, upright Goan from our state. And he believed that if he could get this B.J.P. voter to join hands with the traditional disillusioned Congress Voter, especially in Salcete and Bardez, who is  equally simple, nature loving and upright that lethal combination would comprehensively defeat the odiously corrupt Congress hegemony of the last 3 decades.

And election 2012 proved him spot on target.

Instinctively a centre left politician he dragged the right leaning BJP to his position and that’s how BJP managed to win this election and a lot of Goan hearts (His deafening silence during his earlier stint in power was however mysterious and inexplicable)

So, the Goa BJP did not change Matanhy. Oh no! Look at the evidence on the ground. It was Matanhy  who tried to change the BJP in Goa. For a better Goa!!

2)    He was a lone crusader

 Another popular myth. His followers may have been small in number when his politics and his mission was not so fashionable. But he never wavered from his path, his truth and his idea. He was sure people would rejoin him, in droves because after being subjugated to all the lies the deceit and the treachery, people eventually return back to the warm embrace of truth.

And it was his eminently dignified and unfailingly polite wife, Alina  who was there by him like a rock. Two steps behind but uppermost in his mind and heart. He was never never alone!!

3)    He was first and foremost a Teacher

Another myth. It is just that he lived his life in such an exemplary fashion that his life and mission automatically became a lesson for all of us.

Essentially he was a student. Curious, restless, innovative, entertaining and forgiving. To the end he sought to learn from you, than actually teach you.

Activism by its very nature focuses on ISSUES and the holy grail of perfectionism. Politics on the other hand is always about PEOPLE  and their legendary and exasperating imperfections.

Matanhy effortlessly waltzed between the two fields to make that magical difference for all of us and that’s why he justifiably occupies his place in Goa’s hall of Immortality.

In sum then, every time we plant a tree or clean up our garbage take up cudgels for the underdog or not flinch when our integrity is put to the test.

Every time we look at a greedy miner/ real estate baron in the eye or fight to uphold the law we do enormous service, pay our respects and deeply venerate the Idea called Matanhy.

At the end of the day this is all this simple, genial, affable, proud and visionary son of Goa would want us to remember him by.

I can still hear his deep baritone and twinkling eyes speak to me “Oscar, it’s not about me. It never was. This was always and only about our beloved Goa”.

Blogger's Profile

Dr Oscar Rebelo

Dr Oscar Rebelo is one of the leading social activist of Goa and a practicing doctor. He led the historic peoples’ movement in 2006-07 to get the anti-Goa Regional Plan scrapped and save Goa from total destruction of Goa’s ecology and natural beauty. He is a Goa-based leader of Aam Aadmi Party. He is also a columnist.

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Previous Comments

Oscar as is his wont has gone overboard in eulogising the departed Matanhy Saldanha (God bless his soul). It is not anyone's argument that a little hyperbole is permitted in any eulogy. But as Mark Antony said at Julius Caesar's death...'The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft buried with their bones'. The greatness of leaders is in the survival of their ideology as Oscar himself has pointed out. The road to perdition is always accompanied by lip-service to an ideal. Rather than wax eloquent on the contribution the departed leader has made, Goa would be well served if we focused on progress and development which any leader worth his salt ultimately stands for.

- Rahul Kakodkar, New Delhi | 03 rd April 2012 22:55


Dr Rebello ..I saluete Mathany for his dedicated work and pray for his soul to rest in peace. Also i am ardent admirer of Mathnay as well as you who are/were always at forefront for social cause. But I Strongly condem your following statement ...

"Fed as I am on a rigorous diet of the BJP being a bunch of trishul wielding, mosque destroying crazy communalists " .

I wanted to ask rebello to introspect for while and find answers for following. Why People like Narendra Modi or manohar parrikar who delivered best are always coming from only RSS background and not from congress or communist background? Why Dr rebello look only at the act of mosque destruction or trishul thing and why he neglect the social work undertaken by RSS whole over the India. ? What is hidden secret of RSS still expanding and going good after its formation 87 years before and all those so called rebellos secural organisation closed down ? I want Dr rebello to visit Gujrat , Madhya pradesh and ask minority community if they are safe in BJP raj than its ealier one.

Please Doctor Do not blame it simply for few things .Atleast we do not expect such things from educated ,decent person. There are thousands of RSS workers work dedicatedly working for upliftment of this country . If they are against then with those who are antinationalist, anti indian culture .

All should practice their own religion but should keep in mind that when we say Goenkar or indian then we should exbit similar customs and tradition.

- Rajendra Barve, Psl Verna | 27 th March 2012 12:26



Hats off to the present Government........a true Aam Admi Budget.......only if 1/4th of the Proposed Budget is implemented..... I guarantee/assure this Parrikar Govt. will last for more than 50 years henceforth..... to celebrate Goa's Centenary Celebrations.

Thanks to the Visionary Man of Goa.... Sir Manohar Parrikar !

- Anthony, Panaji | 26 th March 2012 15:54


A fantastic and very well written blog - it not only is a tribute to Mathany, but provides an insight into the idealogies we all need to uphold.

We are waiting for you to take up the mantle and we will extend our support to help Goa weed out corruption and criminal activities.

- Yma Pinto, Goa | 26 th March 2012 12:12


Dr. i would really appreciate if you could take up the cuddels of late mathany and contest the cortallim assembly seat and carry forward the work of mathany which he could not move forward. go ahead dotor we are with you to SAVE OUR GOA

- Arnaldo, Kuwait | 24 th March 2012 23:38


First of all my deepest sympathies to the family of late Matanhy Saldanha who lost the dearest one and also to the BJP Mr Parrikewr and his team who have lost a minister who had lots of good things planned for Goa. I wish all the praises which are pouring now after his death from different parties, persons and from friends and foes should have showered on him when he got elected and became a minster or even before when he did so much for Goan causes. My only hope that all the people support the present government to carry on his legacies and policies which he wanted to implement that’s only way his soul can rest in peace.

- domnic, bahrain | 24 th March 2012 16:33


A Prominent MLA from Tiswadi stated " THERE IS NO MODERN DAY GANDHI" on National television news channel CNNIBNLIVE on its program Bad Boys of Goa during the recent assembly election campaign. THIS PERSON HAS TO EAT HIS WORDS AS Modern day Gandhi - Matanhy Saldanha was staying in his own backyard and carried his crusade to save goa..

May his Soul rest in Peace.

Lets carry the Mission forward!!!!

- J Dias, Navelim | 24 th March 2012 14:23


Well said Dr.Oscar,

There are very few people in the world like late Mathany

Saldanha and you. Late Mathany did not have children but he became father of so many children of today. He loved and cared for all the children of Goa. He tried to teach and educate them for good with the basic principles. May his soul rest in peace while others do try to learn from his teachings.


Carmo Santos / Kuwait

- Carmo Santos, Margao / Kuwait | 24 th March 2012 11:17


There are reports in the press that some Congress MLAs are trying to jump on the bandwagon to BJP. It will spell doom and disaster for Manohar and his party if he will allow these congress goons to join BJP. The day these people will be admitted to BJP, people will lose faith in the party. BJP should remember that the Congrees MLAs want to join not for the love to BJP or Parrikar, but to protect themselves from the crimes they committed in the erstwhile govt. And allowing these folks in, or going slow on the previous corruption cased will be defeating the very purpose people voted you guys in.

BJP watch out, stay away from these proven corrupt mafias. If your Govt. is threatened and destabilized, resign and seek a fresh mandate. If your motives are honest, people will grant you all 40 seats.

- Jagan, Canada | 24 th March 2012 09:53


Very well said dotor. The lines you have written are truly unbiased and unemotional. Given the fact that you were there trying to keep him away from the clutches of death, there is not an inkling of emotion in your writing dotor. That is how it should be. For the first time i have felt like commending your writing-though i know it is of not substantial value to you. I was disillusioned by you when you had left us in the lurch after the mass peoples movement you helped Goa with. I hope atleast now you decide not to run away from your resposibilities (not those of dotor) of fighting for our Goa. We may not have another Mathany, but we still have the hope of somebody like Mathany whether it is by going head on into the BJP or not


- jaret de silva, overseas | 24 th March 2012 02:50


Dear Dr. , spot on again. The last few days have been revealing - its only in his death that we have come to know how much he did for so many people not just in Goa but all over India.

A true Christian who lived life Christ like rather than a ritualist one. A friend commented that its like Saints we get to know them only when they die and people come forward to narrate incidents in their lives that were touched upon....Sir Matanhy is true a Saint for me. I am sure the "Idea called Matanhy" will sure inspire many youth and many good educated your people to join public service specifically politics. This idea should not die never never never for Goa's sake - this would be the most fitting tribute to him.

Dr. as always you have held Goa close to your heart , please take a step towards public service. Your example will surely motivate others to follow.

- Maxie , Dubai | 24 th March 2012 01:24


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