Shashikala Kakodkar, often affectionately addressed as ‘Tai’ (older sister) passed away this afternoon. She suffered from a prolonged illness. Her final rites will be performed on Saturday. She was 81. Her tenure as the Chief Minister of the then union territory, Goa, Daman and Diu lasted from 1973 to 1979.
Kakodkar was known to have shown zeal from an early age. She was only 11 when she is said to have participated in Goa’s freedom struggle. Her commitment to social cause continued later in life as well. After completing her masters from Bombay University, she returned to Goa and engaged in social work.
It was her father Dayanand Bandodkar (the first Chief Minister of Goa, Daman and Diu union territory) who groomed her for a political career. Having been first elected on an MGP ticket from Ponda in 1967 to the Goa State Assembly. She also served as a Parliamentary Secretary to MGP during her first tenure as an MLA. In 1972, she won the Bicholim constituency seat.
She took up the Chief Minister’s post after her father’s death in 1973. In 1977 Kakodar faced numerous odds. Of the 30 assembly seats, her party got 15 seats. She formed the next government with the help of independent MLAs.
In 1979, her party faced a coup by the party members of the MGP and the government dissolved due to lack of majority needed for the ruling government. Congress formed the government under Pratapsingh Rane in 1980. It seemed like the end of Goa’s first ruling dynasty.
Seeds of MoI issue
In, 1991 Kakodkar became the education minister in a government formed by Progressive Democratic Front (PDF). The rule did not last long but saw the first Christian Chief Minister of Goa Churchill Alemao being sworn in. Kakodkar was made the Education Minister in the short-lived government.
It was during her term as the Education Minister that the grant-in-aid to schools where Medium of Instruction was in English was cancelled. The policy remained active till 2011. It meant the primary level schools now had to pay the salaries of their teachers from the fees collected from students.
The topic of MoI continues to be debated even today. She persisted in fighting for her cause till her passing and served as the President of the Bhartiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch (BBSM). BBSM has formed Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM), a political party that has called for fighting against current Bhartiya Janata Party government’s stand on MoI. The BJP continues to provide grant-in-aid to English medium schools.
End of the journey
‘Tai’ continued to fight for the causes close to her heart even in her advanced age. In her lifetime she fulfilled the responsibility of being the General Manager of Bandodkar group of companies (1968), Chief Minister of Goa and most importantly that of a mother, even while serving as full-time CM.