Manohar Parrikar: Going, going Goan

In perspective, it may sound like an understatement after he helmed the now-famous surgical strikes against militants in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir last year.

Published: 13th March 2017 09:50 PM  |   Last Updated: 13th March 2017 11:59 PM   |  A+A-

In this file photo, Former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. (PTI)

Express News Service

There were always hints, either from the top BJP leadership or from Manohar Gopalkrishna Prabhu Parrikar himself, that he did not like it much in New Delhi, though he was the defence minister of the country. That his time as chief minister of Goa had been more to his liking. That he yearned for Goan food which was not available in the national capital.

Perhaps for anyone other than Parrikar, leaving Goa for a plum and high-profile position in the Union Cabinet would have been a dream come true. Not for the IIT-Powai grad. When the first Modi wave swept the party to power at the Centre in 2014, the savvy politician from the small coastal State was thought to fit the Defence Minister's role and he was paradropped to North Block, raising questions of Parrikar who? He duly settled in the role and even piloted a landmark deal with the US by which the latter country's naval personnel would get to use India's bases for some R&R. But the longings of Goa never ceased.

Fast forward to 2017, Parrikar's longing to return to Goa, where he lost his wife, has come true. He will be back in the state, known for its casinos and ubiquitous Russian tourists, as CM on Tuesday, following the insipid showing by his replacement, Laxmikant Parsekar. Maybe life has come a full circle for the 61-year-old metallurgical engineer from IIT-Bombay. That he also received his Distinguished Alumnus Award from his renowned institute and was the first IITian to become a chief minister in the country may now be beside the point. For, he is now back to where he believes he belongs.

After graduating to the BJP from the ranks of the RSS, Parrikar's political career began in earnest only in 1994, when he became an MLA in the Goa Assembly. He had joined the BJP in 1988. He soon rose up the organisational ladder to become the opposition leader in the Assembly in 1999 and went on to become the CM on October 24, 2000, and continued in the position until February 27, 2002. After a short break, he again became CM on June 5, 2002, and continued until February 2, 2005. He also held the office from March 9, 2012, to November 8, 2014. Parrikar previously represented Panaji in the Goa Assembly four times before being elevated as a minister in the Union cabinet.

Parrikar married Medha Parrikar, in the meantime. The couple have two sons. However, in 2001, Medha died of cancer. For a man seen as a shrewd political strategist, his spouse's death left him broken.

On Monday, Parrikar said in New Delhi, "If I want to sum up my achievements as Defence Minister, I can say I have worked towards boosting the morale of the forces and making better procurement."

In perspective, it may sound like an understatement after he helmed the now-famous surgical strikes against militants in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir last year and the ordered an investigation into the big-ticket AgustaWestland chopper scam while seeking to bring in transparency into defence purchases.

It was not all accolades though. Parrikar also faced criticism for approving a junket costing Rs 89 lakh for six government MLAs from the BJP, including three ministers, to attend the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.


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