Ailing Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar Sunday inspected an under-construction bridge on Mandovi River in Panaji, the first time he has been seen in public since returning to the state on October 14 post hospitalisation in Delhi’s AIIMS.

He later inspected the work of a bridge over Zuari River near Agassaim village, some 15 kilometers from Panaji.

The photographs, some of which were issued by the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO), showed a gaunt-looking Parrikar, with medical appendage suspended from his nose and wearing a safety helmet, speaking to government officials and engineers who are overseeing the construction of the third bridge across the Mandovi river off Panaji.

“Manohar Parrikar visited the construction site on the third Mandovi bridge and inspected the progress of work. Officials of GSIDC (Goa State Infrastructure Development Corporation) and L&T engineers were present on the site to brief the CM. He later also inspected the ongoing work of the new Zuari bridge,” a statement issued by the CMO said.

The image has invited sharp criticism over how an ailing person could be forced to do his job.

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted, “He has a tube inserted through his nose into his digestive tract. How inhuman to force him to continue working & doing photo ops. Why can’t he be allowed to deal with his illness without all this pressure & tamasha?”

Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi slammed the BJP for making an ailing CM work.

“Is that a tube that is inserted in his nose? Can a party be so power hungry to make a man work despite his illness? With BJP impossible is nothing….to grab power, latch on to power. Take care CM Saab, because clearly, your party won’t,” Chaturvedi tweeted.

Parrikar, who is suffering from a pancreatic ailment, has been recuperating at his private residence near here since October 14 and this is the first time he has moved out of the house, officials said.

A senior Chief Minister’s Office functionary Sunday said Parrikar travelled from Porvorim to Merces inspecting the bridge, the third over the Mandovi.

The bridge, which is expected to be completed next year, will connect Panaji to the rest of north Goa.

Parrikar alighted from the car at the site and discussed the progress of the work with officials of the Goa Infrastructure Development Corporation and contracting firm Larsen and Toubro, the CMO functionary said.

While the ruling BJP has maintained that Parrikar has been looking after the affairs of governance even as he undergoes treatment, the state’s opposition parties, and occasionally allies in the state government, have alleged that his health-related absence was bringing the administration to a standstill. The Congress had demanded that Governor Mridula Sinha should dismiss the government.

Goa Forward Party chief Vijai Sardesai had earlier said there was no question of replacing ailing Manohar Parrikar as Goa Chief Minister.

While there has been periodic talk about a change in leadership in the state, the BJP has consistently ruled it out.

Parrikar’s absence from office due to health reasons has triggered a political upheaval in Goa, with ruling allies stepping up pressure on the BJP to shed some of the top portfolios currently held by the Chief Minister.