Not in Mathany's name.........

By Prabhakar Timble
08 May 2012 05:33 IST

Let me begin by underlining that Alina Saldanha has every right to contest the by-election to the Cortalim constituency which has arisen due to the vacancy created on account of the untimely and sudden demise of Mathany Saldanha. My total disagreement is to the drumbeats from the local clergy and church Fathers that none else should contest against Alina suggesting that Alina should emerge victorious unopposed, straight on sympathy wave. I recollect Fr Eremito Rebello, Vice Postulator and Rector of the Blessed Joseph Vaz Sanctuary, Sancoale sermon at the funeral. Nothing else but downright political script and unfit to be delivered at a Holy Mass. He adjured the government with the Chief Minister sitting in the congregation, to go after the people who have looted the state and to get the money back from them and deposit it in the Treasury.

It is Alina Saldanha’s right to choose the political party of her choice. My voice of dissent is only limited against those who hold that it is the duty of Alina to contest, she being considered as the sole repository of Mathany’s values, dreams and legacy and that she only can take them forward through the ruling party. That we have never found Alina even in semi-active social and political life at any level for all the years gone by is a different matter. Hence, the less said about Alina holding Mathany’s cudgel and baton of Goa’s future is always better.

Winnable choice for BJP

The BJP, though vociferously made the ‘family raj’ as a major issue in the just concluded elections to the State Assembly of Goa and its frontal outfits worked a very penetrative media initiative to belittle the Congress, the same party has to now barter the party ticket to Alina Saldanha due to the absence of a “winnable” alternative. It’s Alina alone who can ensure the safe passage for the BJP at the Cortalim by-election. The ruling party wants to provide an insurance cover by a premature induction of Alina to the cabinet ‘durbar’. As is understood, she seems to be thirsty to grab political power the easy way with her most recently found interest in social issues. My conflict is only because all this political games are played in our Mathany’s name slowly relegating him as a poster boy of the ruling BJP.

The long innings of struggles bringing to centre stage the issues of traditional fishermen; (ramponkars) the mission for a separate status for Goa to protect our major weakness i.e. scarce land resource and our major wealth i.e. culture and identity, relentless work as the Vice-Convenor of the Save Dabolim Committee since 2005, his anguish that the forest areas will vanish because of projects at Mopa and his commitment to critical issues united the Goans irrespective of caste, creed, religion and political affiliation  to come forward to espouse these causes.  In the last stint of Manohar Parrikar, when the BJP lost the numbers to muster majority in the Assembly,(2004) Mathany Saldanha stood firm and did not succumb an inch to the lucrative offers resulting in his disqualification by the Speaker. This infamous ruling of the Speaker was set aside by the higher judiciary much later.

Mathany Saldanha has documented (Gomantak Times: 30th August, 2008) transfers of lands and properties in and around Mopa (Pernem taluka) in favour of non-local corporates and real estate developers based on a mere announcement of an airport in this locality. The situation today would be almost out of gear in terms of land transfers and displacement of locals. I read Alina Saldanha commenting that she knows little and she will have to dig the files in the home library to gain better understanding. I do not wish to offer any comments.

Though it looks advantage Alina for by-elections due to the emotions which normally get pitched up due to sudden demise, it would be wrong to assume that Mathany’s vision is so fragile that it has to be handled with care only by his wife during his absence. Those who subscribe to such views are sycophants or opportunists. To put it straight, Alina’s and the BJP’s focussed objective is to EVM-cash the emotions. As they say, strike the iron when it is hot and bake the loaf as the kiln is ready.

Tomb of legacy

The post-election scenario may see a beautiful tomb storing the legacy of Mathany, with memories to be recounted at every anniversary. If the causes espoused by Mathany should reach logical conclusions, then his preaching and learning should be freed from electoral bondage. Nobody should deny to Alina Saldanha the privilege to contest election but for the temporary electoral gain, Mathany should not be demoted to a BJP-activist. Mathany’s legacy, if at all it has to remain, it should be brought out from the prisons set up by the BJP and the cages installed by the family and the contesting candidate.

It is illegitimate and immoral to   demand from me respects and homage to my activist friend, the departed Mathany through the instrument of the secret ballot. Such an approach amounts to extracting an exorbitant loyalty price and akin to downright exploitation of our reverence and love for a great son of Goa. A vote for Alina Saldanha should not be construed as a vote for Mathany, who is no more. At the same time, a ballot stamp anywhere else is not an expression that people do not stand with the causes that Jose Mathany De Saldanha stood for.  Hence, my fervent appeal to Alina. You have a right to contest any election from any constituency. Do not equate it to a duty to contest. If the ground equations are in your favour, you win. Mathany’s legacy needs to be taken forward irrespective of the election outcome at Cortalim.  

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

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Prabhakar Timble

Mr Prabhakar Timble is an educationist and a legal expert. He has served several educational institutions, especially as the Principal of Government College at Quepem, Kare College of Law in Madgao as well as couple of Management Institutes. He was also the State Election Commissioner of Goa.

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Previous Comments

Thank you Professor Timble, for this post. I am sure it will lead many to think rather than go by emotions.

- Nelson, Goa | 12 th May 2012 00:15


I fully agree with you Girish. My observation sounds pedestrian. It should not flow from my pen. I had put it knowingly due to feedback I receive from activists closely associated with Mathany.

However, I have now deleted the observation and modified to reflect what I need to convey. Thanks Girish.

- Prabhakar Timble, Margao | 10 th May 2012 06:33


An article written beautifully, more so becasue it is diificult to communicate complex views steering clear of misunderstanding. Regarding Matanhy whom I knew personally sharing drinks in various dinner joints in Panaji, Matanhy and BJP share only one thing in common. Hatred towards Congress. As far as Matanhy's party affiliations are concerned I can count at least two more parties that Matanhy had joined and contested elections. Gomant Lok Pox and UGDP. When canvassing for Gomant Lok Pox, Matanhy even told some catholic friends of mine that 'we catholics should support each other'. I was deeply hurt and would have asked Matanhy straight about it for we had very open communication with each other. However with rough and tumble of life this never happened and I consider such minor issues not worth giving priority. Matanhy did want only one thing 'do as much good of people as is possible'. This he had told me in 1970s when he contested against Erasmo Sequeira in north Goa Parliamentary election and lost his deposite. I do not remember on behalf of which party he contested the elections because neither UGDP nor GLPox were born then.

To be fair to Matanhy I suppose he was closer to Buddhism than any other philosophy.

- Kalidas Laxman, Panaji Goa | 08 th May 2012 18:52


I found the line "As is understood, she is also thirsty to grab political power from the day the bells tolled and ding-donged ......." very pedestrian!

- Girish D Sardessai, Porvorim | 08 th May 2012 14:29


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