The gentlest soul among politicians is no more. Manohar Parrikar, the chief minister of Goa, was suffering from pancreatic cancer. At 63, he was young for a politician who had achieved so much — and without a stain on his squeaky clean reputation and with genuine admirers across the political spectrum.
He was a good man, period. Whether he was the chief minister or defence minister, he remained quintessentially an aam aadmi. Soft-spoken, always dressed in half-sleeved cotton bush-shirts with his feet shod in nothing better than cheap sandals, his identification with the common man was well-deserved.
That would explain his popularity in his native Goa where across religious fault lines, he elicited great admiration. The reason why BJP struck deep roots in multi-cultural, multi-religious Goa was Parrikar. It will be a challenge for his successor as CM of a precariously perched coalition government to take everyone along.
Parrikar, an IIT-Bombay grad, who served the RSS as a pracharak before joining politics, was so well thought-out that at one time there was a proposal to make him the national BJP president. But even as defence minister he pined for his native Goa, and when finally allowed his wish he had no problem putting together a coalition when the 2017 assembly poll threw up a hung House.
Such straightforward and highly educated men who desire nothing from politics for themselves but want to serve the people as best as they can are rare in today’s India. Parrikar was one. Alas, he died young. We mourn his going.