Did Bhau support ‘Hindu Rashtra’?

By Sandesh Prabhudesai (EdiThought)
12 August 2014 12:27 IST

Dayanand alias Bhausaheb Bandodkar, Goa’s first chief minister, ruled for 10 years from 1963, representing the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party. People still recall the day – 12th August 1973 – when the All India Radio aired the news of his death. Goa was as shocked and heartbroken as it was when Mahatma Gandhi was shot dead or when Jawaharlal Nehru passed away. This visionary leader is remembered till date, primarily because he worked for the toiling masses, which he called the Bahujan Samaj. Moreover, he never discriminated any hardworking Goan on the basis of caste, creed or religion. And ‘Hindu Rashtra’ was neither his slogan nor the agenda of the party he founded, unlike his successors in the MGP today. In fact, he was a Royist, believed strongly in the leftist humanist theory of ‘Radical Humanism’ of M N Roy.

The only major blunder Bhau created during his tenure was to support the idea of merging Goa into Maharashtra, which ultimately led to Opinion Poll on 16 January 1967. He upheld the linguistic contention that Konkani is a dialect of Marathi and Goa is part and parcel of Maharashtra. But more than Marathi, as the historians say, Bhau wanted the merger in order to abolish the Bhatkarshai (landlord system) prevalent in Goa and wanted the tiller to be free from the clutches of landlords. He wanted them to be the owner of the land, on the lines of Maharashtra. But majority Goans believed Bhau himself could do it even while maintaining Goa’s separate identity. Precisely with this objective, the wise Goan voters defeated Bhau’s idea of merger and then once again got him elected to power in the second Assembly election, held within two months of Opinion Poll, on 28th March 1967. Bhau not only gracefully accepted the Opinion Poll verdict, but supported a resolution of granting statehood to Goa, in the first session of the Assembly elected in 1967.

The Christian community, represented then largely by the United Goans Party, dumped this visionary because of his stance on language (Marathi is our mother tongue) and merger, but not otherwise. In fact the landless Christian Gawada community felt more close to Bhau and leaders like Luis Alex Cardoz or Anton Gaonkar emerged through the land reforms Bhau brought during his tenure. His two cabinets, of 1963 and 1967, had one Christian among the three ministers - Tony Fernandes (1963) and Anthony D’Souza (1967). Since then, the MGP has a tradition of either fielding Christian candidates or supporting independent Christian candidates in the Christian-dominated Old Conquests.

 

The MGP was formed to end the hegemony of Saraswat Brahmin community in the state, who initially supported the Portuguese rule and then tried to capture the Indian National Congress after liberation. But Bhau’s MGP never totally sidelined the Saraswat Brahmins, on the basis of mere community. His first three-member cabinet had a Saraswat Brahmin as his second minister – V S Karmali, known as Visu Karmali. His third cabinet, in 1972, had Atchutrao Usgaonkar as the minister in the three-member cabinet. The MGP had seven Saraswat Brahmins as its candidate in the first ever election of 1963. It had leader like Adv Mukund Shinkre as the MGP president and M S Prabhu the general secretary and later the treasurer. The MGP however was rightly against the dominant Brahminical attitude, which did not support the economic concept of ‘land to the tiller’.

In fact when Bhau faced the first rebellion within his party with seven MLAs revolting against him, he managed to salvage his government with the support of five UGP MLAs, four Christians and one Muslim. The same legacy was carried forward by his daughter, who succeeded him – Shashikala Kakodkar and then leaders like Ramakant Khalap, Dr Kashinath Jalmi or Prof Surendra Sirsat. Khalap, among them, at one stage joined the ‘Hindutvawadi’ Bharatiya Janata Party, but could not survive there for long. Many other leaders, including Shashikala-tai and Pratapsing Rane etc preferred to embrace the Congress, but could not digest the thought of Hindutva, then called the Jan Sangh.

Even Bhau, reveal the historical documents, had almost finalized to merge the MGP into Congress, little before he expired. Umashankar Joshi, the then Congress leader at national level, had agreed to three-point formula: 1) Congress elections in Goa would be held as per Bhau’s advice, 2) Majority candidates of Congress should be from the Bahujam Samaj and 3) Cabinet must include Christian MLAs. This itself speaks for what Bhau was.

The times have changed now. The same BJP, which staged a comeback in the Parliament of India with a slogan of Hindu Rashtra, is averse to touch the slogan today. Goa’s Manohar Parrikar government, which has six Christian MLAs and four ‘supporters’ from Salcete, does not even intend to think about it. May be with the intention of capturing the hard Hindutva vote bank, which could be upset with the ‘transformed’ BJP, the MGP is now coming forward with the slogan of Hindu Rashtra. No problem. Politics has all such strange games.

But a key question remains unanswered – Is today’s MGP taking Bhau’s political legacy ahead? Or is it a deliberate diversion – from Bahujan Hitay to Hindu Hitay? Is it a right tribute to Bandodkar’s ideals of Radical Humanism? The leaders of today definitely owe an explanation.

They MUST.

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Sandesh Prabhudesai (EdiThought)

Sandesh Prabhudesai is the Editor of goanews.com. He has been earlier the Editor of Sunaparant (Konkani daily) and Editor-in-Chief of Pruden (TV channel). His collection of selective editorials of Sunaparant has been published as 'Goff'. He writes brief thoughts as EdiThought for goanews.com, but not on regular basis.

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A very well balanced editorial. Bhau was the true leader of the masses. He was the one who brought education to the majority of the Goans especially the poor and underprivileged, neglected by the Portuguese and the elite goan society. He also played a major role in developing infrastructure in Goa. Of course, he tried merger, but it was all done in a democratic way. He loved Marathi but didn't impose it on Goa or show disdain for Konkani. It is unfortunate that a large section of the Goan populace is being mislead and indoctrinated with vicious bile about Bhau.

- Prasanjet, Goa | 16 th August 2014 17:54

 

Absolutely superficial conclusions drawn at the end of an essay that merely scratches the surface. One wonders if the writer is trying to be an apologist of Sangh Parivar and blatantly declares BJP's aversion to Hindu Rashtra. Get real man!

Are you so naive to think that BJP will bring the Hindu rastra in a jiffy like the revolution in Russia or China? The coterie in Nagpur carries on the legacy of a long drawn brahiminical ploy that has survived for generations and dreams of bringing back the imaginary Golden era dominated by "Hindus" ( read Brahmin). They must be laughing at your conclusions.

Bhau Bandodkar was a simple bloke and do not simply try to portray him as a Royist or some intellectual . He was overawed by tall personalities from Maharashtra at that time, radicalized through Samyukta Maharashtra Movement. He was spiritually closer to the OBC leadership from Maharashtra than 'Bamons' of Goa who perpetrated physical and intellectual exploitation of his community the most along with others.

And a P. S.: The political dynamics of that era were different. Bhau and Doutor Jack Sequeira shared a genuine personal rapport despite being political opponents. Today's politicians ' maintain' personal relationships with one another on the basis of vested interests . Finally, Hindu Rashtra is a latest brand the market and almost everyone is trying to cash on it in some or the other way . While some like to flaunt ' Dhotis' on their disproportionate assets while others want their encounters with bikini clad ' Gopis' to be a strictly private affair within four walls and not on a beach.

- Rajan Kamat, Mapusa | 15 th August 2014 00:40

 

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