Panaji: A technocrat-turned-politician, Manohar 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.
Parrikar, 63, 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 from his schooldays, Parrikar, who died Sunday, 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.
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 October 24, 2000, but his tenure lasted only until February 27, 2002.On June 5, 2002, he was re-elected and served another term as chief minister. On January 29, 2005, his government was reduced to a minority in the asse-mbly after four BJP MLAs resigned from the House.
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. —PTI...