Despite losing his wife early, he insulated his sons from falling prey to the world of political gains and instead, they are independent today with their own businesses. Salute to one of best politician India ever produced. Bhai, you will be missed!
Giriraj Pai Vernekar
As he lay motionless in the refrigerated box, I felt countless emotions rush through my blood. Like for most Goans, he was my strength, idol, saviour and most importantly – My Bhai. For over 25 years, Goa's hopes have revolved around Manohar Parrikar. Whatever role he got, he excelled.
As MLA of Panaji from 1994, he ensured Panaji was rid of all the problems it had faced like poor electricity, water shortage, the menace of gang wars, and so on. Within a short span, Parrikar had taken Goa's politics by storm and since then, Goa's politics has always had Parrikar in the centre. Even as Leader of Opposition, his vociferous support to causes of public interest kept Government on the toes. With his sheer grit and studious nature, he exposed countless scams of the ruling bench. And when he became the Chief Minister, he did everything that made him what he will forever be remembered as – the architect of modern Goa. Despite his unmatched popularity, tremendous power and extraordinary brilliance, Parrikar will always be remembered for his simplicity and down to earth nature.
I recall a moment in 2002 when a small get together of young RSS Swayamsevaks was organised at my house. When Parrikarji arrived in RSS uniform, most of us were blown away by his simplicity. Sipping his favourite black tea without sugar, he went onto address us with humour, wit, facts as well as his experiences as Head of the state government. The moment interaction ended, he moved towards the exit only to find it was raining heavily. Before an umbrella could be arranged, the CM had started running towards a private Maruti 800 waiting for him with his friend in the driver seat and zoomed away. No official vehicle, no red beacon, no security and no cavalcade. This may not seem like a big incident but it left an indelible mark on me and I found an idol in public life.
Even though 2012 onwards saw Parrikar’s rise, it was possibly the most difficult time for him. In Goa, he succeeded the mess left by Digambar Kamat for five years while in Delhi, he stepped into the mess created by the art of not taking a decision of AK Anthony. I would rate Parrikar’s stint as RM as the best stint in his career. Given his position allowed him to focus on one sector, he meticulously went through issues of the Defence Ministry one by one. Whether it is about pending procurement cases, or new acquisitions, or issues of ex-servicemen or main operational issues, he carefully scrutinised each file slowly earning himself a lot of admiration from political circles as well the bureaucrats and the services.
When he arrived in RSS uniform, most of us were blown away by his simplicity. Sipping his favourite black tea without sugar, he went onto address us with humour, wit, facts as well as his experiences as Head of the state governmentHis approach was filled with analysis, intellect, and most importantly, empathy towards those protecting our nation. Even today, men in uniform call him the best Defence Minister India had so far and rue the fact that he did not stay long enough. Industry captains are usually compelled to speak highly about those power but even today, Parrikar’s contribution is remembered. One of the CMD of a large Indian conglomerate said Parrikar had done more work for the industry than all the RMs put together since the Defence sector was opened to the private sector in the early 2000s. His role in personally drafting the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2016, placing long pending orders on private industry, making test ranges available and so on gave a new boost to Prime Minister Modi’s Make in India initiative.
Whether as CM or RM, Parrikar remained firmly grounded and his final journey was benefitting the man he was. Every TV channel or news websites had details of his last rites being covered live. When he was to be finally taken to the Miramar beach for cremation, a sea of humanity erupted. Miramar beach was flooded to catch the last glimpse of their Bhai even from a distance. Goa cried together.
When Prime Minister visited Parrikarji’s family, most of India had seen two faces for the first time, those of Utpal & Abhijat, sons of one of India’s most powerful politician. This to me is Parrikarji’s biggest achievement. Despite losing his wife early, he insulated his sons from falling prey to the world of political gains and instead, they are independent today with their own businesses. Salute to one of best politician India ever produced. Bhai, you will be missed!
(The writer is a public policy professional and served Manohar Parrikarji as his OSD)