PANAJI: Even though the ward he represented was literally blown to smithereens, the longest serving corporator in the Corporation of the City of Panaji (CCP), Surendra Furtado, secured his seat for the seventh term.
Delimitation had spilt his ward 10 into multiple parts. However, notwithstanding the setback, the four-time mayor contested from an entirely different ward and emerged victorious with a margin of 57 votes.
“It was a completely new ward for me. Not a single voter of mine from my original ward was there and neither was my own vote in this ward. Despite all the jugglery done, God helped me,” Surendra said.
“Surendra Furtado is a brand name in Panaji,” the seven-time corporator said in his usual dramatic style.
He and his wife Ruth would otherwise contest and win wards 9 and 10, interchanging them when either ward was reserved for women.
But this time it was a different ball game, and he contested and won in ward 6 against sitting corporator Kishore Shastry. He also made sure that Ruth won her fifth term from ward 9.
“Credit must go to Surendra for staying afloat against Panaji MLA Atanasio ‘Babush’ Monserrate’s bulldozing, despite him not having the full backing of Congress,” a political observer said.
Surendra, who contested his first in the municipal body way back in 1985, said he took after his father who was a freedom fighter.
“When Surendra contested against Manohar Parrikar, Monserrate worked against him. But in the following CCP term Monserrate made Surendra the mayor. Their bond goes beyond politics at times,” another citizen said.
He has also drawn some admiration from the Monserrate camp and BJP rank. “Whatever be the criticism against him, when required his heart beats for Panaji and as mayor he would take BJP corporators along for the betterment of Panaji, even though he was in Congress,” a BJP worker said.
Another citizen, who actively worked for Monserrate and resides in Surendra’s earlier ward, said he never had to complain about work that needed to be done. “When I met him recently, he told me he knew that my relative was unwell and that he would get the bushes near my house trimmed the day after the counting. And on the day after the counting, he got the bushes cut despite knowing that I was working for Babush in his own ward. Surendra delivers,” he said.