Manohar Parrikar fought hard till the last breath of his life, not just against the fatal illness of Pancreatic Cancer but also for the principles he stood for. His demise on March 17, 2019, has created a huge void in the public life of the nation, especially that of Goa. Taking forward that legacy will be the real tribute to the original ‘Aam Aadmi Chief Minister’.
Manohar Parrikar was always known for integrity, simplicity, dedication and sharp intellect. Since the detection of Pancreatic cancer in February 2018, what he had shown was the impeccable fighting spirit. No wonder, the Chief-Minister of Goa and the former Defence Minister of Bharat left everyone speechless in his last journey.
Born on December 13, 1955, at Goa’s Mapusa Manohar Parrikar completed his schooling from Loyola High Schol and graduated from IIT-Bombay in Metallurgical Engineering in 1978. He married Medha Parrikar, and the couple was blessed with two sons. However, in 2000, his wife died of cancer. He was a true patriot, quintessential Sangh swayamsevak, exceptional administrator and the real Aam Admi Chief Minister.
He joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh at a young age and became the Mukhya Shikshak in the final years of his schooling. After graduating from IIT, he continued to work for the Sangh as a Karyakarta in Mapusa, while maintaining a private business. Later, he became the Sanghachalak of Goa at the age of 26. He was also a key organiser of Shri Ram Janmabhoomi movement in North Goa.
The Bridge Builder
In the late 1980s, he started his political activism through the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and within no time became the undisputed leader of the nationalist party in the State. As a member of Bharatiya Janata Party Shri Parrikar was elected to Legislative Assembly of Goa in 1994. He became Chief Minister of Goa for the first time on October 24, 2000, and served Goa three times in the same capacity. On November 9, 2014, he became Union Defence Minister and continued till March 13, 2017. He was again sworn in as Chief Minister of Goa on March 14, 2017.
Since the year 2000, when he first became the Chief Minister of Goa, Goa politics always revolved around him. The Goa Assembly is a small one with just forty members. But the State of Goa is also a complicated one with North Goa-South Goa, Marathi-Konkani, Hindu-Christian, Saraswat-Non-Saraswat dynamics. Thanks to these demographic complexities of a relatively small population and small nature of the assembly, Goa politically has been unstable since inception.
After a few months of taking over as the Chief Minister, Parrikar faced a personal tragedy with the untimely demise of his wife. Even after the personal loss, he served the people of Goa with new vigour. While doing so, he ensured that his two sons get the best of the education and values.
Demise of an ideal political personality
In their tribute, RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat and Sarkaryavah Shri Bhaiyaji Joshi said: Former Sanghachalak of Gomantak and Chief Minister of Goa Manohar Parrikar has unfortunately lost the prolonged battle against illness. He was a former Defence Minister of Bharat and also held many other posts that he brought honour and glory too. He was diligent, committed and focused on his goals. Due to divine ordainment, his voice has been silenced forever. “Whether it was Sangh activities in Goa or the lofty goal of development of common people, Manohar Parrikar was a leader who dedicated his everything to both causes with equal diligence. He took upon the responsibility of the Ministry of Defence keeping national interests in mind and guided the defence establishment in a new direction. Amiable, studious, strong-willed, work-oriented and someone who had no other thought in his mind except national interest, Manohar Parrikar was, indeed, a rare public figure. “We have lost one of the best sons of Bharat Mata. We will always remember him as an ideal social, political worker and dedicated karyakarta. May his family, friends and colleagues be granted the strength to bear the loss of his untimely passing. May the departed soul attain sadgati. This is our prayer to the Almighty. Our humble homage.”
Parrikar was very straightforward in conveying his views and did not bother to be politically correct. Still, he emerged as the most acceptable leader, overcoming all the identities and crafted the dream of modern Goa for all the Goans. His simple lifestyle, accessible approach, meticulous planning and administrative acumen combined with whole-hearted dedication made him a maker of Modern Goa. His efforts to host the International Film Festival with Goa as the permanent venue is just one example of his visionary politics. The unprecedented sea of people that gathered on the streets of Goa to pay their last respects to the beloved leader was the most obvious indication of this bridge builder in the society.
Decisive Defence Minister
Though his heart always stayed with Goa, considering the national requirement, Shri Parrikar accepted the responsibility of becoming the Union Defence Minister in 2014. In a short span of two and a half years, he showed his different skills at the national level. When he took over, One Rank, One Pension for the defence personnel was the critical issue. Taking everyone along, he tried to address almost all concerns of the Armed Forces while keeping the financial constraints in mind. Initiative for defence modernisation and boosting of defence modernisation programme was his another important contribution that the nation cannot forget. He revised the entire procurement policy to give space to the national players in the system.
Dr Pramod Sawant being administered the oath by Governor Smt Mridula Sinha
Dr Pramod Swant wins Floor Test
Hours after the country bid farewell to Manohar Parrikar, Goa Legislative Assembly Speaker Dr Pramod Sawant was sworn in as new Chief Minister of the state. Two Dy Chief Ministers from allied parties were also sworn in. Like the late Parrikar, the two-time MLA from Sanquelim Dr Sawant has been associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Shri Swant proved his majority in the House on March 20 comfortably. Twenty MLAs voted for the motion of confidence in the government, while 15 opposed it. The special session of the House was convened by Governor Mridula Sinha to conduct the floor test, after Dr Sawant was sworn in as CM. Besides 11 members from the BJP, three each from the Goa Forward Party, the MGP and Independents supported Sawant during the head count conducted in the House.
Bringing probity in defence deals while ensuring the fulfilment of defence requirements always remained his priority. His presence in the ministry could make the revised Rafale deal possible for strengthening the Air Force. The swift and daring execution of Surgical strikes across the Line of Control after the Uri Terror attack is another feather in his cap. Obviously, the Prime Minister and cabinet took the political decision, and the army executed it precisely, it was Parrikar who as a Defence Minister coordinated the operation without taking any credit for the same.
Back to Goa
After 2017 Assembly elections, the fractured mandate compelled him to go back to Goa. In fact, the pre-condition of the smaller parties and independent MLAs was to have only and only Manohar Parrikar as the Chief Minister. He was more than happy to serve the people of Goa.
Unfortunately, within a few months of going back, he was detected with the Pancreatic Cancer. He underwent treatment at AIIMS, New Delhi, and a private hospital in Mumbai and as well as in the US. Even during this most difficult phase when his health was deteriorating, and death was looking inevitable, he continued to perform his responsibilities to the best of his abilities.
Nation Pays Tribute
The fighting spirit was the inspiration for many when he was battling cancer and has created a legacy for the future generation. Obviously, the four-time Chief Minister of Goa and Defence Minister of the country, he ruled the hearts of the people even in the remotest corners of the country which was evident after his sad departure. When his demise was announced by President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind, his simplicity, sharp intellect and inspiring personality were the most discussed in social media. His passing away was mourned by the whole nation in an actual sense.
In his tribute, President Shri Ram Nath Kovind said: “An epitome of integrity and dedication in public life, his service to the people of Goa and of India will not be forgotten.” Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi said, "Shri Manohar Parrikar was an unparalleled leader. A true patriot and exceptional administrator, he was admired by all. His impeccable service to the nation will be remembered by generations." The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, also condoled the demise of Parrikar. “The Cabinet expresses profound sorrow at the sad demise of Shri Manohar Parrikar, Chief Minister of Goa in the evening of 17th March 2019 at Panaji, Goa. In his passing away, the country has lost a veteran, and distinguished leader affectionately called as the Chief Minister of commoners,” the resolution passed by the Cabinet said.
Rashtra Sevika Samiti Pramukh Sanchalika Shantakka and Pramukh Karyavahika Sittakka said the demise of Parrikarji is an irreparable loss to the Nation. His modest, dedicated, hard-working nature fulfilled the duties of his responsibilities till his last breath makes him a rare and unique son of Bharat Mata. He had great respect and appreciation for the work of Rashtra Sevika Samiti, they said in a statement.
Shri Parrikar will be remembered for his simplicity and his abilities as an exceptional administrator. His contribution to the building of modern Goa and the modernisation of India’s Armed Forces as well as improvement to the lives of
ex-servicemen will never be forgotten. He was awarded the ‘Distinguished Alumnus Award’ by IIT Mumbai in 2001, Honorary Doctorate by National Institute of Technology, Goa in 2018 and the Dr SP Mukherjee Award in 2018, among others.