By SM.18 Mar, 2019
PANAJI: Manohar Parrikar, the Chief Minister of Goa and former defence minister, died at his son"s home in Panaji today after a long illness. He was 63.
Since February 2018, Parrikar had been in and out of hospitals in Goa, Mumbai, Delhi and New York after he was diagnosed with a pancreatic cancer.
The four-time Chief Minister had been seen in public outings over the past few months with a nasal tube and a frail form, which provoked opposition attacks on the ruling BJP. But in January this year, he had famously said that he "will serve Goa till my last breath".
A technocrat-turned politician, he had started as a functionary of the BJP"s ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, before entering active politics.
Manohar Parrikar was known for his impeccable record and simple lifestyle. Often seen in his trademark bush shirts and riding a scooter, he had an image that helped people find him accessible.
Manohar Parrikar was not one for "susegad", a term that describes the relaxed, laid-back Goan culture for which his state is so well-known. "I am not susegad! I work 16-18 hours a day," Parrikar said over four years ago.
Parrikar was seen as one of BJP"s most successful chief ministers, having established the party in a state that has a substantial Christian vote. He also enjoyed the support of the BJP"s ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
It was Parrikar who proposed the name of Narendra Modi as the BJP"s Prime Ministerial candidate in 2013 ahead of the 2014 national election.
A graduate in metallurgical engineering from IIT-Bombay in 1978, he was a batchmate of technocrat Nandan Nilekani. He was the first IIT alumnus to serve as the legislator of a state and later, chief minister.
Born in Mapusa in 1955 when the state was still under Portuguese control, Parrikar grew up in the Goan village of Parra and later studied at the Loyola High School in Margao. Parrikar was a father of two sons, his wife Medha died in 2000 of cancer.
It was because of his clean record as Chief Minister, his tech background and strong decision-making skills that he was persuaded to join PM Modi"s cabinet as Defence Minister in 2014. Parrikar admitted that he had moved to Delhi reluctantly.
Three years later, he returned to his home state as Chief Minister after several smaller parties said they would support the BJP in Goa on condition that Parrikar led the government. Parrikar came back, announcing that he missed the Goan staple fish and rice.
But just a year after he resumed charge in Goa, reports emerged that he was seriously unwell and was being treated for a pancreatic condition at the Sloan Kettering Cancer Research Foundation in New York.
After long hospital stints, Parrikar even presented the budget in the Goa assembly in January. He made up for his weakened delivery with rousing words.
It was during Manohar Parrikar"s tenure as Defence Minister that the re-negotiated Rafale fighter jet deal between India and France was inked. The deal has dominated headlines since as the Congress accused PM Modi of corruption while alleging Parrikar had no idea about the deal signed between the two nations.
In January, Congress President Rahul Gandhi called on Parrikar to inquire about his health even as he continued to attack the PM Modi over the Rafale deal.
The controversy continued as Parrikar accused Gandhi of using his visit for "petty political gains". Rahul Gandhi had said the former defence minister had told him that "he had nothing to do with the new Rafale deal."