Goa Chief Minister and former Union Minister Manohar Parrikar passed away on Sunday, 17 March, after battling pancreatic ailment. The 63-year-old leader was said to be in a critical condition on 16 March, amid “rumours of political instability” in Goa.
Despite the ailment, the four-time Goa chief minister kept the “josh high” and made several public appearances and inaugurated projects. In January, he presented the Goa state Budget in the Assembly with a tube attached to his nose.
A technocrat-turned-politician, Parrikar rose from an ordinary RSS pracharak background to become the country’s Defence Minister and also a four-time chief minister of Goa who emerged as one of the few national leaders from the politically volatile state.
BJP’s Crisis Man
He enjoyed a man-next-door image who navigated Goa's politics for two decades and became BJP's crisis man in the coastal state.
Despite his long association with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) from his schooldays, Parrikar managed to create for himself a reputation as a somewhat moderate leader and a man with personal integrity.
An admitted workaholic who insists on leading a simple life, Parrikar, a metallurgist by training, was a leader who enjoyed acceptance from all sections of the BJP and beyond.
He played a key role in making the BJP a force to reckon with in Goa, which remained for long a Congress bastion, with regional outfits having pockets of influence.
There are many accounts of his spartan sytle -- security personnel seeing him arriving at the airport in a rickshaw, carrying his own luggage wearing rumpled bush shirts and chappals in north block.
Parrikar had a three-year-long stint as Defence Minister in the Narendra Modi-led cabinet but the political controversy over the controversial Rafale jet deal cast a shadow on his tenure.
The deal was initiated in September 2016 when he was holding the Defence portfolio.
Parrikar termed as 'overreaction' his ministry's note objecting to "parallel parleys by the Prime Minister's Office" with the French authorities in the Rafale deal.
The back and forth between the Congress and the government over the estimated Rs 58,000 crore deal to buy 36 combat jets from France took a new turn with a report in The Hindu daily last month citing a 24 November 2015 note of the Defence Ministry which said that parallel discussions by the PMO "weakened the negotiating position of the MoD and Indian negotiating team".
Congress President Rahul Gandhi claimed that Parrikar had said he had nothing to do with the Rafale deal.
The Congress also released an audio tape in which Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Pratapsingh Rane claimed that the chief minister has the Rafale deal files in his bedroom.
In his response, Parrikar tweeted that the allegations were the Congress party's desperate attempt to fabricate facts.
The Congress also accused Parrikar of being silent on the deal, alleging he was aware of the violation of several norms linked to the purchase of the aircraft.
A known fighter, an ailing Parrikar's decision to go for a ride and inspect two upcoming bridges in the state with a feeder tube protruding from one nostril was a defining image and sought to suggest he is still in-charge of the state.
Born on 13 December 1955 into a middle class family, Parrikar's political career began as an RSS pracharak and he continued working for the Sangh even after graduating from IIT-Bombay as a metallurgical engineer.
Parrikar never shied away from displaying his affiliation to the Sangh and was even photographed participating in the annual ‘Sanchalan’ organised by the RSS in the uniform and wielding lathi.
He even credited the surgical strikes conducted by Indian Army in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir during his tenure as Defence Minister to the teachings of the RSS.
Political Plunge: From MGP to BJP
His plunge into BJP politics is considered as an attempt by the party to curb the growth of the state's oldest regional political party – Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP).
Parrikar entered electoral politics in 1994 when he won on a BJP ticket from Panaji constituency.
He was leader of the Opposition from June to November 1999 and was known for his speeches against the then Congress-led government.
He became chief minister of Goa for the first time on 24 October 2000, but his tenure lasted only until 27 February 2002. On 5 June 2002, he was re-elected and served another term as chief minister.
On 29 January 2005, his government was reduced to a minority in the assembly after four BJP MLAs resigned from the House.
Pratapsinh Rane of the Congress subsequently replaced Parrikar as chief minister. In 2007, the Parrikar-led BJP was defeated by the Congress.
But the year 2012 saw Parrikar riding a popularity wave in the state when he took his party to the historic number of 21 out of 40 seats in the assembly.
He went on to become the chief minister again.
Cabinet Ministerial Berth in 2014
After the Modi-led Cabinet was sworn at the Centre, Parrikar was offered a ministerial berth in November 2014. He remained in the union cabinet till 2017.
His health started deteriorating in February 2018 and he was first admitted at Mumbai's Lilavati Hospital for pancreatic ailment. He was flown to the US in the first week of March last year where he remained admitted at hospital till June.
Parrikar attended the monsoon session of Assembly from 19 July to 3 August, and left for the USA on 10 August for the second round of checkup. He returned to Goa on 22 August, 2018.
Parrikar was shifted to the AIIMS New Delhi on 15 September last year.
After almost a month-long treatment, he returned to Goa on 14 October.
Parrikar stunned everyone when he reached the CM's office on 2 January this year after a gap of almost two-and-a-half months.
He also attended the budget session on 29 January and presented the state Budget the next day.
During the last few days, Parrikar had been in and out of Goa Medical College and Hospital for treatment, but was mostly confined to his private residence.
(With inputs from PTI)