Parikkar's administrative acumen and ability to dissect complex techno-commercial issues was an added advantage that would have ensured his political relevance for years.
New Delhi: Goa Chief Minister Manohar Gopalkrishna Prabhu Parrikar, 63, has passed away after battling cancer for nearly a year. The low profile Hindutva warrior had a distinguished achievement of making his ideology acceptable in a state where Christian minorities have a sizeable role in deciding the electoral fate of candidates.
The Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai graduate had an ability to connect with people in Goa due to his simple lifestyle and affability. He was a man who could fit all caps. As the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fell short of numbers in the March 2017 Assembly elections, it found that Parrikar was once again the most acceptable candidate to all non-Congress parties.
The Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, one of the parties which allied with the BJP in Goa after election results were announced, was at the forefront in telling the BJP that it would extend support only if Defence Minister Parrikar was brought back as Chief Minister for the fourth time. Short of a majority, the BJP had to ask Parrikar to move from his office in South Block, Lutyens Delhi to the more comfortable environs of Panaji.
The shrewd political manoeuvre set into motion by Nitin Gadkari put to rest Congress efforts to manage the requisite numbers. Congress stalwart Digvijay Singh stock fell as a result. Parikkar had shown political courage and proposed the name of Narendra Modi as the prime minister in the 2013 meeting of the BJP at Goa. Many of the party’s old guard, including LK Advani were reluctant to back Modi for the top job.
Three years earlier the Rashtriya Swayemsewak Sangh (RSS), the ideological fount of the BJP, had toyed with the idea of making Parrikar party president. The exercise was aimed at propelling Parrikar to the national scene.
Finally, Nitin Gadkari became the party president. Parrikar’s Delhi sojourn was marked by his efforts to remove the cobwebs that dogged purchase of arms and hampered the modernisation of India’s defence preparedness. Most of the policy initiatives of Modi government in the defence sector can be traced to Parrikar’s efforts at South Block.
He has laid the basis for India’s long term defence procurement and planning. The demise of the BJP stalwart is a setback not only for the party in Goa, but also nationally. In Parrikar, the BJP had a face whose wide public appeal was matched by his high acceptability within the organisation and the cadres.
His administrative acumen and ability to dissect complex techno-commercial issues was an added advantage that would have ensured his political relevance for years. Alas, fate intervened and the nation has lost one of its most honest politicians.