Hundreds of people, including some Congress leaders, Tuesday evening marched to the private residence of ailing Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, demanding his resignation, and a “full-time” chief minister in his place.
The people, who came together under the banner of ‘People’s March For Restoration of Governance’, marched for about 1 km, and gave an “ultimatum” of 48 hours to Manohar Parrikar to step down as the chief minister.
Apart from the Congress, other political parties including NCP and Shiv Sena also extended support to the protest march, which was initiated by social activists and NGOs.
The protesters demanded Parrikar step down as the chief minister as he has been unwell.
They said the governance in the state had suffered as Manohar Parrikar was ill and remained hospitalised for more than nine months.
The police stopped the protest march 100 metres from the chief minister’s private residence.
Talking to reporters, Deputy Collector Shashank Tripathy said the chief minister refused to meet the protesters due to his ill-health.
On behalf of the protesters, Aires Rodrigues, social activist and the leader of the protest march, publicly gave an “ultimatum” of 48 hours to Parrikar to step down.
“We need a full-time CM. For the last nine months, the state administration has collapsed. The CM is not meeting his own ministers and MLAs,” Aires Rodrigues said.
He said the people who marched to the chief minister’s residence had also come to check on his health condition.
Aires Rodrigues warned of launching a state-wide agitation in case Parrikar does not step down within 48 hours.
Congress leaders, including the party’s Goa unit chief Girish Chodankar, Leader of Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar, MLAs Digambar Kamat, Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco, Antonio Fernandes, Francis Silveira took part in the march.
The Goa unit chief of Shiv Sena Jitesh Kamat said, “The people of the state are praying for the speedy recovery of the CM, but that does not mean he should continue to put the state administration on hold.”
Union Minister Shripad Naik had earlier said that a change in leadership in Goa was a “requirement” “today or tomorrow” considering the health of Parrikar.
Parrikar, 62, has been undergoing treatment for a pancreatic ailment for several months now and arrived in the state on October 14 post hospitalisation at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi.
Health Minister Vishwajit Rane had earlier said Manohar Parrikar was suffering from pancreatic cancer.
While there has been periodic talk about a change in leadership in the state, the BJP has consistently ruled it out.
Goa BJP President Vinay Tendulkar had last month said that ailing Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar will not resign as the head of the BJP-led coalition government, ruling out “rumours” that the former Defence Minister was likely to step down from his post due to ill-health.
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.
The Congress has also demanded that due to Parrikar’s ill-health, the state administration had come to a standstill and has demanded that Governor Mridula Sinha should dismiss the government.
(With PTI inputs)