A day of National mourning as India lost an honest and great leader. Manohar Parrikar died after prolonged battle against Pancreatic Cancer. He was 63 years old.
Parrikar was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer in February 2018 and had been in and out of hospitals in Goa, Mumbai, Delhi and New York since.
Dressed in his trademark half-sleeved bush shirt and floaters, Mr. Parrikar had an image of an accessible yet go-getter politician.
From an RSS pracharak to a Union Minister, the technocrat-turned politician was known for his administrative acumen and clean image. This did left an indelible mark on the politics of the tiny state. A Mumbai IIT graduate in metallurgical engineering and among the first members of BJP in Goa, Parrikar was instrumental in raising the profile of his party from its just four members in state assembly in 1994 to its present status as a ruling party in the state assembly.
He was born in 1955 in Mapusa, in then Portugese-ruled Goa. In the 1970s, the teenage Parrikar joined the RSS. After completing a degree in metallurgical engineering from IIT Bombay, he resumed working with the organisation. At just 26, he was Sanghchalak of Mapusa.
In 1994, for the first time, the BJP sent four legislators to the Goa Assembly. Mr. Parrikar was one of them along with the current Union Minister Shripad Naik. He overcame Naik and became the first BJP Chief Minister of Goa in 2000.
He was an ardent Goan. Even as the Defence Minister in 2014, he would often spend time in the State, visiting Goa every weekend.
One of his political achievements was to develop the Goa Model of the BJP, positioning the right wing party away from narrow Hindutva bracket to a larger and more inclusive Goan identity. He even managed make the Catholic Church a BJP ally in the State.
He sacrificed the post of Defence Minister to return as CM of Goa. Without him, the BJP floundered — from 21 seats they came down to 12 seats.
Mr. Parrikar also has the distinction of helming the 2016 cross border surgical strike. Lt. General D.S. Hooda, who was the Northern Army commander at the time of the strike, describes Mr. Parrikar as sharp and decisive.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi even termed him as the ‘Builder of Modern Goa’. The title seems huge but for a man of Parrikar stature, this is nothing. He changed the Goa politics, remained clean, astute, and easily approachable. He set an example for every politician in the country by his simplicity and decision making. India not only lost a CM but a great leader. May his soul rest in peace.