In Shaskikala’s Kakodkar’s death a year ago, Goa lost a great leader. Goa’s second Chief Minister, Shashikala Kakodkar was known as ‘Tai’ to us all. She took over the reins of Goa on August 12, 1973 following the death of her father, Goa’s first Chief Minister, Dayanand Bandodkar. Shashikala Kakodkar had the distinction of being India’s third lady Chief Minister, the first being Sucheta Kriplani (Uttar Pradesh) and the second being Nandini Satpathy (Orissa). Shashikala Kakodkar had a very firm grip over the administration unlike some of the subsequent Chief Ministers. Goa’s Iron Lady she was.
As a friend of the family, Shashikala’s three sons Yatin, Sameer and Abhay we played together as children. Shashikala’s three boys were brought up as normal kids never ever pampered or allowed to play truant unlike most children of today’s tribe of politicians. In spite of her busy schedule as Chief Minister, whenever I was at her Porvorim residence at lunch time, she made sure lunch was served at her hands.
In 1979 the student community proved to be a formidable force to be able to challenge the then Government headed by Shashikala Kakodkar. It was the kindling of student activism in Goa. It was our desire that the student community in Goa should get 50% bus concession. The powerful bus owner’s lobby was being fully supported by the Shashikala Kakodkar Government. The student agitation launched on 1st January swiftly spread from Pernem to Polem and within 13 days the Shashikala Kakodkar Government decided to graciously concede to the demand of the student community for 50% bus concession.
During the same student agitation, on 7th Jan 1979 Shashikala Kakodkar was being felicitated at Azad Maidan on her 44th birthday by a committee headed by the late Mr. V.M Salgaoncar. As she was not conceding to our demand for 50 % bus concession we decided to demonstrate and disrupt her felicitation function at Azad Maidan. We were successful and ended up with VM Salgaoncar’s Mercedes car badly smashed in that chaotic evening. It was just a coincidence that I later graduated in law from VM Salgaoncar’s College.
Shashikala Kakodkar was definitely never vindictive. Though I was a very close family friend of the Kakodkar family, Shashikala respected my right to oppose some of her government’s policies and decisions. And for this I respected and always held her in the highest esteem. She was more than a “Tai” to me. She was always very concerned about my well being.
A true tribute to Shashikala Kakodkar would be for Politicians and people in authority, by virtue of their positions to be ready for both bouquets and brickbats. They should know that their lives and (mis)deeds are under the public scanner and are more than likely to be exposed at some stage. Freedom to fearlessly fight against social ills is the very hallmark of a true democracy, but unfortunately some of those who ride to power on a contrived electorate are unable to withstand such a scrutiny.
After being Chief Minister for 2084 days, Shashikala Kakodkar graciously conducted herself even after being out of power. She at all times kept herself abreast with issues concerning Goa. We should always remember the enormous contribution of this great lady towards the development of Goa and in particular the upliftment of the downtrodden Bahujan Samaj. My fond memories of Shashikala Kakodkar will never ever fade away.