Manohar Parrikar was a polarising figure that left lasting memories as an iconic political figure. He has been a household name not just in Goa, but his brief but very efficient stint as defence minister of India made him a national icon.
He was a towering figure in Goan politics for more than two decades. People were dazzled by his academic qualifications, that a CM could also be an IITian which amazed many Goans.
Parrikar, was fondly called ‘Manu’ by his classmates in IIT Bombay. His aptitude for problem solving and administration showed right from his early days in IIT Bombay. He was responsible to have significantly improved the quality and hygiene of the hostel food while he served as the Mess secretary.
Parrikar started his life as a businessman in Goa after graduating from IIT Bombay with B.Tech in metallurgical engineering. He gradually carved his path into the field of politics by joining the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) almost single handedly setting up and building the organisation's network in the state.
Parrikar's stock as an honest, uncompromising leader rose when he became the leader of opposition in the Goa legislative assembly for the first time from 1994-2000.
He became a crusader against corruption scams such as the notorious mining scam of the early 90's.
He understood the unique challenges of the coastal state, that development was paramount but it could not be at the cost of its natural beauty.
He also understood that communal politics could not influence Goans. The opinion and involvement of minorities in the state was key to holding on to power. Therefore despite being educated in the hardcore hindutva RSS background, Parrikar never failed to address or attend to matters of the Catholic church in Goa,
This was evident as almost half his cabinet compromised of Catholic MLA's when he became chief minister in 2012.
As chief minister, he kept to his promise of lifting tax on fuel in the state, this was why in 2012 the price of petrol and diesel in the state was the lowest to anywhere else in the country.
As chief minister, he was also responsible for bringing in several populist and social schemes, such as the Ladli Laxmi Scheme, which helped women avail Rs. 1 lakh to meet wedding expenses, the Griha Aadhar Scheme under which housewives in the state would get Rs. 1,000 each month to offset rising inflation and gas price expenses and the Cyberage Scheme under which every Class IX student in the state was given a personal computer at a nominal cost of Rs. 1,000.
Parrikar was the iron man of Goa and ruled with an iron fist, while there is divided opinion on his legacy, there is no denying he was an honest politician one of the very few and great administrator. Today on the day of his birth anniversary he is remembered throughout the country as a no nonsense, honest person who could have perhaps one day become the PM of the country.
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