When Manohar Parrikar took over as the chief minister of Goa in 2017, he was doing so for the fourth time. On the last three occasions, he had not been able to finish his term due to one reason or the other. The senior BJP leader, called the saviour of Goa BJP, could not serve his full tenure once again. The four-time Goa chief minister, who also served as the defence minister of the country for three years, passed away in Panaji on Sunday.
With his death ends the 63-year-old BJP leader’s year-long battle with cancer. Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in February 2018, Parrikar’s condition turned critical on Sunday and he breathed his last at 6.40 pm.
A leader who was respected by fellow political leaders cutting across party lines, Parrikar was credited with the meteoric rise of BJP in the coastal state that had been a Congress bastion.
Born on December 13, 1955 into a middle class family, Parrikar was a pracharak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in his early days. He remained a Sangh man even after graduating from IIT-Bombay as a metallurgical engineer.
When he jumped into politics, Goa’s oldest regional political party Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) was a strong force. As a BJP leader, Parrikar was successful in stunting that growth and put the saffron party in a stronger position.
In 1994, Parrikar entered into electoral politics as a BJP candidate and won from Panaji. He became leader of the opposition in June 1999 before taking over as the chief minister of Goa for the first time in October 2000. Though his first term as CM lasted only until February 27, 2002, Parrikar was re-elected and became CM again on June 5, 2002.
This time too, however, Parrikar could not complete his full term as four BJP MLAs resigned from the Assembly on January 29, 2005, and he was left with a minority government. Pratapsinh Rane of the Congress took over as the CM then, before Digambar Kamat-led Congress won the 2007 elections.
Parrikar made a great comeback in 2012, winning an unprecedented 21 seats out of 40 in the assembly elections. He became the chief minister again and under his leadership the Goa BJP won both Lok Sabha seats in the 2014 general elections.
With the Narendra Modi government coming to power at the Centre, Manohar Parrikar was called to Delhi and given a ministerial berth. He took charge of the Ministry of Defence in November 2014. With him out of Goa, BJP failed to get majority in the assembly polls of 2017.
The defence minister had to quit the Central cabinet and return to Goa where he succeeded in forging an alliance with Goa Forward Party and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) to form the government with him as the CM again.
After his health started deteriorating in February last year, Parrikar was admitted to Mumbai’s Lilavati Hospital. Days later, he flew to the US and underwent treatment at a hospital there before returning to India in June.
He attended the monsoon session of Assembly from July 19 to August 3. On August 10, the 63-year-old left for the USA again for checkup. On his return to Goa the same month, Parrikar was treated at home where a makeshift medical facility was created for him. He was brought to AIIMS in New Delhi on September 15 last year, where he remained admitted for almost a month.
He returned to Goa on October 14 and had not been seen in public life for a long time.
On January 2, Parrikar made a surprise public appearance as he reached the CM’s office. On January 27, he made another appearance, this time at the inauguration of the third bridge on Mandovi river, accompanied by Union minister Nitin Gadkari. He had a tube in his nose, and he looked frail.
On January 30, day before he was brought to AIIMS again, Parrikar attended the Assembly session and even presented the state Budget.
On February 5, Parrikar went back to Goa and addressed the Atal Booth Karyakarta Sammelan on February 9 with BJP president Amit Shah in attendance.
For the last few days, Parrikar had been in and out of Goa Medical College and Hospital, and he died at his residence in Panaji.
Parrikar was the defence minister when India conducted surgical strikes on terror launchpads across the Line of Control in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, days after a terror attack at the Uri base camp of Army in Jammu and Kashmir in September 2016.
An RSS karyakarta at heart, Parrikar had credited the action to the teachings of the RSS.
Parrikar, a widower, is survived by his two sons, Utpal and Abhijat, their wives and a grandson.
(With agency inputs)