ours after Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s death on Sunday evening, Goa got in political storm. BJP is hell bent on bringing their party man as his successor, and alliance is not compromising at this time as they were there for only Parrikar as candidate but not BJP as party. Manohar Parrikar belonged to the rare category of down to earth accessible Politicians. He was the one BJP politician after Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who is admired by all, respective of political differences. Nitin Gadkari landed in Panaji and held overnight meetings with alliance partners to decide on a successor and save the coalition government as the opposition Congress staked claim to power for the second time in two days. In 2017 Goa polls, when the Congress emerged as the largest party in a hung verdict, it was Nitin Gadkari who had negotiated alliances to establish a BJP-led coalition with Manohar Parrikar – then Union Defence Minister – as Chief Minister. Manohar Parrikar died after a yearlong battle with cancer. He led a government with allies like the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and Goa Forward Party and Independents. The BJP-led coalition government has a razor-thin majority after the death of lawmaker Francis D’Souza and the resignation of two Congress lawmakers. The strength of the Goa Assembly stands at 37 instead of 40. The Congress has 14 lawmakers and BJP has 13.
Meanwhile, Sudin Dhavalikar demanded the Chief Minister’s post. He supported Manohar Parrikar, because he was BJP’s tallest leader in Goa, as well as the most acceptable leader for the top job among the party’s allies. He kept the fractious coalition running, even when he was making public appearances with a nasal tube and supported by aides, at the peak of his battle with pancreatic cancer. The BJP lawmakers have suggested the names of Vishwajit Rane and Pramod Sawant for CM candidature. But during a meeting with Nitin Gadkari, Sudin Dhavalikar expressed his willingness to become the Chief Minister of Goa. He said that he has sacrificed many times by supporting the BJP, and now he has put in his demand but the BJP will not agree to that. Goa Forward Party chief and State Minister Vijay Sardesai also sees himself as a candidate for the top job. There are many contenders from alliance who wants to be CM of the state but BJP is trading on who so ever can be poached to retain power. On the other hand, Congress has majority and if they succeed in convincing their stand they can retain to power.
There are strong chances that, Dr. Pramod Sawant who is the Speaker of the Goa Legislative Assembly and a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party, can by the CM candidate of BJP for Goa. Dr. Pramod Sawant obtained a Bachelor of Ayurveda, Medicine and Surgery degree from the Ganga Education Society’s Ayurvedic Medical College in Kolhapur and a postgraduate degree of Master of Social Work from Tilak Maharashtra University at Pune. Sawant’s wife Sulakshana Sawant is a leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party and currently the President of the Goa unit of the BJP Mahila Morcha.
No doubt Parrikar was workaholic hard taskmaster, and person who put the State on the development map of the country. And whatever differences he might have had with BJP leaders were only because he was “straight forward”. 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. It was on the insistence of the alliance partners that he came back to take the post. But now he is no more, and the supporters who lent hand for him are on U-turn mode. There are possibilities that the independent candidates may switch their sides. In such scenario BJP should gracefully take back seat and sit in opposition. Congress government too equally contributed to the development of Goa. Today Goa is most secular and greatly popular tourist place just because of the efforts of respective political parties in power of their tenure.
Parrikar was born in 1955 in Mapusa, in then Portugese-ruled Goa. It was only after Goa’s liberation in 1962 where the right wing politicians played pivotal role that the RSS took root in the State. In a short period he left his mark as arguably our best Defense Minister. A simple man with Spartan habits Parrikar was efficient and capable and was also imbued with a never say die spirit. He died as he wished to, in harness. The nation has few politicians who can hold a candle to the four times Goa CM who also served as the country’s Defence Minister. BJP has lost a great leader just before the general elections is very sad indeed. 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. It was the RSS that pushed Parrikar to the BJP to counter Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party. Parrikar’s sangfroid self often hid the astute politician he was. In 1994, for the first time, the BJP sent four legislators to the Goa Assembly. Parrikar was one of them along with the current Union Minister Shripad Naik. The parallel run of Parrikar and Naik ended here. Parrikar soon outstripped Naik, who was the BJP State President from 1990 to 1999, to become the first BJP CM of Goa in 2000. Naik left State politics to become the first BJP MP from the State in 1999. Once he took over the centre stage in the State, Parrikar never conceded the position to anyone else in the party. 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 to make the Catholic Church a BJP ally in the State. He was known for his manipulative politics. He kept files on every politician in the State including those in his own party and the opposition. His own Health Minister Vishwajit Rane was heard in audiotapes claiming that Parrikar has the critical Rafale files carrying critical proof against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Earlier this year, in January, Congress president Rahul Gandhi met Parrikar in Goa a day after tweeting about the “audio files” that he claimed gave the Chief Minister powers over Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
We all have lot of respect for Manohar Parrikar as he is one of the educated politicians with incredible qualifications. Unfortunately, in the recent past he became tool in BJP’s dirty politics. BJP with just 12 seats in Goa assembly claimed to form Government. All the illegal poaching of MLAs to form Government was done to make Parrikar as CM. He should have stepped out and stood for what is right. The poaching of MLAs is going to be done throughout India for the rest of our life and Parrikar would be the trendsetter for the same. There were so many controversies on Rafale and everything happened right under his nose while he was Defense Minister. His death was imminent and was expected. He could have done what is right. At least he would have voice about it. Any ways, this is not enough to refute his integrity. At the end, we lost one credible politician who was rarest of the rare. May his soul rest in peace.
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