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By Valmiki Faleiro

Ruling MGP’s father-daughter duo were not the only Goan political party leaders
accused of autocratic functioning. The father-son counterparts in the 
Opposition UGP,
Dr. Jack de Sequeira and Erasmo, also were. We saw (HERALD, Feb 11, 2006) how
their role in finalizing the Opinion Poll terms led to the first UGP split in 

Uncanny that Goa’s two post-Liberation stalwarts, Dr. Sequeira and Bandodkar,
though personally poles apart, had several things in common. Both headed their
respective parties, dually in the legislature and organisation. With their 
style of
functioning, both were cause of splits in their parties. Even on a personal 
note, both
had a son each and several daughters! Both attacked each other in the Assembly, 
were civilized enough to share cordial personal relations. Times and values of a
different era.

Times were changing. By the 1970s, nobody took high-handedness in his stride.
The Congress had entreated Dr. Sequeira to merge the regional outfit into the 
party, or at least to arrive at an electoral alliance. Dr. Sequeira feared a 
alliance would only allow the Congress to ride piggyback to eventual power, as
happened in the '90s in the MGP/BJP experiment.

UGP was on its last leg. Functioning of the "Papa-Baba" (Dr. Sequeira-Erasmo) 
led to the UGP’s second, and final, split -- eventually, to extinction.

Erasmo was a powerful, and feisty, two-time MP from South Goa. Eduardo Faleiro
may have earned a place in history as Goa’s first-ever minister in the Union
Government, but Erasmo certainly was Goa’s most powerful MP ever. Such was his
magnetic influence that he led a sizeable lobby of Lok Sabha MPs, largely from 
Union Territories. When Indira Gandhi clamped Internal Emergency on June 26, 
Erasmo was the only notable opposition leader not behind bars. He was the
Opposition’s only voice in Parliament.

When `Newsweek,’ the international news magazine, ran a cover story on India’s
Emergency, the lead story opened with Erasmo’s quote. Indira Gandhi, of course, 
a soft corner for the intelligent, bearded MP from Goa. Whenever opportunity 
she named him leader of Parliamentary delegations to foreign countries, 
especially to
the Portuguese/Spanish speaking world. One day, the PM invited Erasmo over. She
urged him to join the Congress and assured to make him Dy. Minister.

"Deputy Minister?" Erasmo shot back. "Then what, Minister of State?" she asked. 
I aim higher," Erasmo told her. "But how can I take you as Cabinet Minister 
without any
experience?" she asked. "But that’s not what I want!" he replied. Indiraji was 
So what was this young man aiming for, she wondered. She asked him so.

"Your chair, madam, your chair!" he replied. The white-streaked lady must have 
nonplussed. The subject ended there, for good. Erasmo himself related that 
When I asked him why he spoke that way, he explained, "A person who enters any
forum must aim for its highest position."

Such was the man, the idealist, even if impractical. For Goa, there was a 
problem. Erasmo went by Delhi realities, which often were diametrically 
opposite to
those obtaining in South India. When the post-Emergency Janata juggernaut rolled
across North India in March-1977, for instance, Maharashtra, Goa and most of 
India remained loyal to the Congress. Erasmo’s Delhi influence simmered much
discontent in the UGP back home.

The last straw snapped when Erasmo, without party consultations, joined Charan
Singh’s Bharatiya Lok Dal. The UGP broke into Sequeira (UGP-S) and Naik (UGP-N)
groups. Erasmo lost the March-1977 election to UGP-N, now Congress’ Eduardo
Faleiro. In the Assembly elections in June that year, UGP-N, now the Congress,
secured 10 seats, while UGP-S, now the Janata Party, got just three. The UGP-N 
merged with the Congress, then went with Congress-U when the party split at the
national level and finally, into the Congress-I following the Jan-1980 poll 
victory. The
hoary ‘United Goans Party’ was history.

The Election Commission froze its symbol, ‘Hand.’ Ironically, the ‘Hand’ 
returned to the
bulk of the erstwhile UGP -- now the Congress(I) -- when it was allotted to 
Congress in 1980, the party that ruled Goa for the greater part since 

PS: Goa’s current politicos have asked the Election Commission of India to hold 
elections before arrival of the monsoons. Funny. Are the politicos talking to 
Election Commission or the Meteorological Office of India? Even George Bush, the
world’s most powerful man, will be unable to say which date the rains will 
arrive in Goa
or the next typhoon in his own country. By the time elections are eventually 
held, let’s
pray the rain gods wash away the bulk of our practicing politicos!(ENDS)

The Valmiki Faleiro weekly column at:


The above article appeared in the April 15, 2007 edition of the Herald, Goa

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