Tribute: Politicians, friends recall Manohar Parrikar’s simplicity, ideals

Mumbai: Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday described Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar as a highly-qualified leader of the masses who left his stamp in politics. Parrikar (63) died of a pancreatic ailment on Sunday at his private residence near here.

“It is shocking news for us. Highly qualified, leader of masses and true son of the soil has left us. As Goa CM, leader of opposition in Goa and as Defence minister, he left his stamp on every post he held,” Fadnavis said. “When Goa was going through political turmoil, the solution came in the form of Parrikar. He offered a stable government and took the state forward,” Fadnavis added.

“It was his calibre that took him to Delhi as Defence minister. Many decisions were pending, but Parrikar found solutions to them. He worked very hard,” the Maharashtra CM said. He said he learnt several things from Parrikar who was like a big brother, Fadnavis said.

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, offering condolence, said, “The country has lost its great son in the form of Parrikar. He was an embodiment of simplicity, though he served as chief minister of Goa multiple times as well as Defence minister.”

“He served the country in its critical times. When the Uri terror attack took place during his tenure, he led the surgical strike. He was not only a hope to the BJP but also to the country,” Thackeray said.

In his condolence, Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao said, “Shri Manohar Parrikar was one of the most brilliant, cultured and visionary leaders in the contemporary politics of India. “As leader of the Opposition in the Goa Legislative Assembly, as Chief Minister of Goa and as Defence Minister of India, he discharged his duty with utmost dedication, sincerity and commitment,” Rao said.

“Parrikar had a vision of development and a strong urge for the welfare of the people. A suave leader, Parrikar had friends cutting across the political lines. Parrikar served the people of his state till his last breath. His life was a Karma Yagya in the service of the people. In his demise, the nation has lost a luminous star in public life,” the Maharashtra governor said.

Parrikar’s friend and senior journalist Girish Kuber recalled the departed leader as a sensitive father, stubborn politician and quick learner.

Speaking to a regional channel, Kuber said, “Parrikar lost his wife when he was in his early 40s and he knew his younger son could not sleep without her presence. He ensured he returned home every night irrespective of his event or commitments. It shows how deeply he was connected to his family.”

Queried about Parrikar’s engineering background obtained from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay, Kuber said he was a very quick learner. “He was a very quick learner, as he came from a very competitive academic life. Nandan Nilekani was his batchmate.

So one imagine the kind of academic competitiveness he has experienced. It helped him in his political career as he could learn things quickly and start working on solutions,” Kuber said. Kuber said Parrikar was not keen on shifting to Delhi, for his stint as Defence minister.

“He was indeed nervous when details related to the Rafale fighter jet purchase deal started surfacing and I had spoken to him a couple of times that day. It is commendable that Parrikar never faced a single charge of corruption despite holding so many important posts in his political career,” he said.

Commenting on Parrikar’s appeal in Goa, Kuber said, “You would find it surprising that even some churches in Goa
had officially appealed to the followers to vote for Parrikar. Everybody knew he was not just a BJP leader but also had a strong RSS background. But Parrikar succeeded in garnering such acceptability.”

Despite being soft-spoken otherwise, Parrikar had a powerful take when it came to political debates, Kuber said. “I feel his stubbornness sometimes put limitations to his political growth. Sometimes, he took extreme stands and invited controversies, including his comments over then BJP’s national leader Lal Krishna Advani,” he said.

His simple man image was also carefully adopted one, Kuber said. “He used to live simple. He never made a fuss if transportation arrangements had some problem. He had travelled in an autorickshaw in Mumbai when he was a senior leader in Goa,” he said. When Parrikar was first elected as MLA from Panjim, he had made it clear he was going to use it to build his image as a leader.

“He did it and it lasted till his end,” Kuber said. Kuber is editor of Indian Express group publication Loksatta. While speaking to a regional channel, Vasant Limaye, his fellow student at the IIT-Bombay said, “There used to be separate groups among students at IIT-B, those fluent in Marathi and those strong in English.

But Manohar could deal with students from such diversified background perfectly,” he said. Parrikar had earlier promised his wife that he would quit politics, but after her death, he decided to continue with his political life, Limaye recalled. “At the time of my book release couple of years ago, I had invited him.

Later, I learnt that his son was admitted to a hospital so I assumed that he would not come to my event in Pune. But once he was informed that his son was discharged from hospital, Parrikar attended his Assembly session and reached Pune. I was shocked to see him but was thrilled with his commitment,” he said.

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