New Delhi: As poll campaign gears up in Mandrem constituency, the voters here still fondly remember Dayanand Bandodkar, who became Goa’s first Chief Minister in 1963 after the territory was returned to India by Portugal. Goa’s present Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar is now contesting in the February 4 election from the constituency, located in northern most part of the coastal state.
Bandodkar, popularly known as Bhausaheb, formed the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and won from Mandrem in 1963, when the first election in liberated Goa was held. “Bhausaheb did not belong to this place but his maternal uncle did. His mother belonged to Pednekar family. That is how he contested from here in the first election in 1963,” recalls Sajo Pagi, an 81-year-old freedom fighter who had campaigned for Bandodkar during the 1963 polls. “It was a different world then. We rallied behind Bhausaheb and he proved us absolutely right. The kind of development he did in this constituency during his tenure can be seen even now,” Pagi said.
The constituency remained MGP’s bastion till the 1998 Assembly polls, when a Congress candidate won from here. “The constituency has 50% voters having their affiliation to MGP because of Bhausaheb. The voters were confused after MGP-BJP had an alliance. For this election, they are back with MGP,” claimed 69-year-old Shridhar Mandrekar, the MGP candidate from the seat.
Mandrekar vividly remembered his own participation as a young MGP worker in Bandodkar’s campaign. The MGP, which recently split with BJP, is trying to regain power in the constituency having about 32,000 voters. After Bandodkar, BJP’s Laxmikant Parsekar is the second Chief Minister from the constituency. “When Bandodkar was Chief Minister, he gave priority to primary education in this constituency. He created network of the schools due to which even the downtrodden people were educated,” Parsekar said.
“Fifty years down the line, now there is a good network of educational institutes in this constituency. Earlier, no one aspired for jobs here as their parents were in traditional vocations. Now with education, there is a huge demand of jobs in this constituency,” the Chief Minister said.
Parsekar, who is contesting on BJP ticket from Mandrem, said projects like Greenfield airport at Mopa and Electronic City will generate jobs in the constituency. He claimed BJP has managed to win the hearts of people here as the party have taken forward Bandodkar’s dreams. “We are implementing the schemes which ideally MGP should have done. We have implemented more schemes than MGP during its tenure as the main ruling party. We have touched every section of the people,” Parsekar said.
Former MGP leader Devendra Prabhudesai, who is contesting on Aam Aadmi Party ticket from Mandrem, says AAP mirrors the aspirations of Bhausaheb in many ways. “Two parties (BJP and Congress) have ruled after Bhausaheb Bandodkar. Now we have AAP which believes in the principles of Bhausaheb – that is basic necessities for the common man,” Prabhudesai said.
“We are talking about corruption-free India. When we save money, it can be diverted for welfare of the people of Goa. We will also control land grabbing. This is what Bhausaheb aspired for,” he said.