A practical democrat

By Sandesh Prabhudesai (EdiThought)
21 March 2012 21:40 IST

He was a staunch Konkani protagonist; but not a fanatic linguist. He formed Gomant Lok Pokx; but did not believe only in regionalism. He joined the UGDP; but never hobnobbed with anybody for opportunistic gains. He joined the BJP; but was definitely not a religious fanatic.

Matanhy Saldanha was practically a blunt man and bluntly practical.

Yes; he was against the Congress, for he had spent half of his life fighting the injustice meted out to the people by the Congress rulers, in Goa as well as at the centre. Even the emergency. But he always believed in true spirit of secularism, socialism and democracy; incidentally what the Congress also stood for, but only in letters and not in spirit.

In that sense, he was a real true Indian who believed in the democratic foundation laid down by the forefathers of our country, most of whom were part of the Congress. That’s why he kept on exposing the hypocrisy of the Congress, from Indira Gandhi till date.

It would be unjust to say that he had only Goa at his heart. Moreover, he had Goans at his heart. The downtrodden Goans. The exploited Goans. The struggling Goans. The deprived Goans.

Soon after coming back from his college studies in Belgaum in mid-70s, Matanhy thus obviously jumped into a fierce struggle against the mighty Zuari Agro Chemicals Limited and equally mighty Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party’s government. It was a first struggle in the country against industrial pollution he had pioneered. It had destroyed paddy fields of poor farmers in Sancoale and dying fish along the coast of Velsao, Cansaulim etc had deprived the Ramponkar of their daily livelihood. He won it, while creating a great hope for those who had lost all the hopes otherwise.

The struggle for Ramponkar (traditional fishermen) continues till date as the mechanization has completely ruined their lives. The Render (toddy tappers) have become extinct today, but Matanhy stood by them for the last four decades. He also fought against over-commercialisation of beach tourism while his fears have come true today along the whole tourist coastal belt.

His struggle for realignment for Konkan railway had a vision for the development of Goa’s hinterland. He opposed Nylon 6.6 plant, Meta Strips or SEZs not because he was against ‘development’ but was not for destruction of Goa under the garb of development.

That’s why Matanhy, as a tourism minister, wanted to develop hinterland green tourism. As the forest minister, he wanted to protect the sanctuaries and not denotify them for the benefit of the mining industry. He was determined to implement all those suggestions he had made throughout his life to protect Goa’s environment, as the environment minister.

But it could not happen. Chief minister Manohar Parrikar in fact has lost a trustworthy lieutenant who was perhaps the only capable politician to meet the aspirations of Goans, after hopes are raised very high from the existing government.

He experimented. Initially, with the support of the Church, but failed. Now, he was experimenting with the help of the BJP. It was from one end to another. In fact many of his ‘comrades in arm’ had disagreed with his new experiment. But none of them would dare to say that he had sold out his principles for political gains. That committed was he to his principles and integrity.

We will rarely find such a person, committed to humanity and wedded to the people. He will always remain in our hearts, to inspire us, especially when we flounder over our so called principles. Remember, the whole state of Goa is crying today, not because we lost a minister but we lost a man with principles and integrity. Ultimately, what counts is sincerity and integrity; definitely not money, power or artificially created superficial positions. Nobody remembers ‘such’ people.

The history remembers only Matanhys…

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Sandesh Prabhudesai (EdiThought)

Sandesh Prabhudesai is a journalist, presently the Editor of goanews.com, Goa's oldest exclusive news website since 1996. He has earlier worked as the Editor-in-Chief of Prudent & Goa365, Goa's TV channels and Editor of Sunaparant, besides working as a reporter for Goan and national dailies & weeklies in English and Marathi since 1987. He also reports for the BBC. He is also actively involved in literary and cultural activities. After retirement from day-to-day journalism in 2020, he is into Re-Search Journalism (पुनर्सोद पत्रकारिता), focusing on analytical articles, Video programs & Books.

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Previous Comments

First of all my heartfelt symphaties to his fly.Definately we lost our true leader and for sure he will be watching them all from heaven.Honourable CM please fulfill all his dreams..........May his soul rest in peace.Mathany.....

- tom, cayman islands | 24 th March 2012 01:00


Dreams are scattered. we lost a visionary leader. No words to utter.

- Anjali Sushil Amonkar, Kuwait | 22 nd March 2012 11:57


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