Manohar Parrikar

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This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.

Contents

Life and times

Life and times of Manohar Parrikar, March 18, 2019: The Times of India


December 13, 1955 | Born to Parra native, Gaud Saraswat Brahmin middle-class couple Gopalkrishna and Radhabai of Mapusa in North Goa

R S S prant pracharak D Nadkarni is a major influence on young Parrikar, who is made ‘mukhya shikshak’ while preparing for IIT

1973 | Joins IIT Bombay, R S S gives him charge of the Powai hostel unit of the Sangh

1978 | Graduates as BTech in metallurgical engineering, resumes work for R S S in Mapusa where he also sets up a business

June 2, 1979 | Manohar Parrikar marries Medha Kotnis in Mumbai

They have two sons—Utpal and Abhijat

1981 | Becomes R S S Mapusa unit sanghchalak

Parrikar on his R S S background: Learnt “discipline, progressiveness, gender equality, equality of all before the law, nationalism and social responsibility from the R S S”

1988 | Sangh deputes him to BJP to make the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party irrelevant

June 1991 | Makes electoral debut, contests Lok Sabha polls from North Goa constituency, loses to Congress candidate Harish Zantye

November 1994 | Wins Panaji seat, BJP debuts in Goa assembly with four members

Considered No. 13, his birth date, lucky. His vehicle number, while he was in office, was 1313

2000 | Just months before Parrikar is to take up the CM’s post, he loses his wife to cancer

October 24, 2000 | Becomes the first IITian CM

2001 | Awarded Distinguished Alumnus Award by IIT Bombay, announces cyberage scheme, where for the first time in the country, free computers are provided to higher secondary school students

February 27, 2002 | Dissolves state assembly

June 5, 2002'"" | Re-elected CM for second time

2004 | Gets Iffi to Goa, raises infra in record time

March 2, 2005 | His government is reduced to a minority after four BJP legislators resign

Even as CM, Parrikar lived in his ancestral house at Mapusa, 13km from Panaji

September 2009 | Parrikar in an infamous interview compares BJP veteran Lal Krishna Advani to “a rancid and ageing pickle whose political innings was more or less over”

March 2012 | Elected CM after BJP gets 21 seats in 40-member House, announces popular schemes like Griha Aadhar and Laadli Laxmi

September 2012 | Suspends mining operations after Shah Commission report alleges multi-crore scam

January 2013 | Becomes first BJP CM to openly endorse Narendra Modi’s candidature for PM. Also hosts BJP national executive in Panaji, where Modi is announced as campaign committee chief and in effect the PM candidate

November 2014 | Handpicked by PM Modi as defence minister, moves to New Delhi

November 2014 | Elected to Rajya Sabha from UP

September 26, 2016 | Carries out surgical strikes across LoC after Pakistani terrorists killed 19 soldiers at Uri on September 18, 2016

March 2017 | Resigns as defence minister, sworn in as Goa CM for fourth time

February 2018 | Diagnosed with a pancreatic ailment

March 17, 2019 | Passed away

The man

Marcus Mergulhao, The aam aadmi: Half-sleeved shirt, sandals & scooter rides, March 18, 2019: The Times of India

The sight of Parrikar riding pillion on supporters’ two-wheelers grabbed the nation’s imagination
From: Marcus Mergulhao, The aam aadmi: Half-sleeved shirt, sandals & scooter rides, March 18, 2019: The Times of India


Manohar Parrikar was the original aam aadmi who rose to become chief minister. His identity in politics, at least for those beyond the state’s borders, was firmly established as a man who wore half-sleeved shirts for any occasion, even his son’s wedding. A man who wore sandals wherever he went, even to Parliament, and who had no problem hopping on to the back of a two-wheeler.

The sight of Parrikar riding pillion on a bike being driven by Caetano Silva, later elected MLA of Benaulim constituency, was published in all major newspapers and websites in the country. On a high during campaigning for the assembly elections in 2012, Parrikar would hop from one constituency to another, and wherever roads were narrow, a motorcycle would remain his best bet.

In Panaji, from where he was first elected in 1994 and a seat he retained till his death, his commonness was there for all to see. He would have a chat with the local ‘poder’ (breadman), lend his ear to the fisherwomen and even ride a bicycle for fun. For many, Parrikar was one of their own.

Despite being elected CM for four terms, he remained aam for many. During Parrikar’s first stint in office, he was stopped in the middle of the night by local policemen who demanded to know why he was out so late. According to reports in local newspapers at that time, the policemen on nakabandi duty didn’t recognise the CM. Not their fault. Someone moving without the red beacon atop his official car, without a police van ahead of him, and seated in the front seat could not be CM. This was a ‘common man’, and deserved to be questioned!

Policemen — whose boss Parrikar was as home minister — were not the only ones taken in. Security guards are known to have stopped him while he was entering a famous five-star hotel on the outskirts of Panaji. A guard stopped Parrikar for a routine security check, like everyone else, after he stepped inside without his police escort. A ‘hurt’ Parrikar returned to his vehicle, summoned the lone police security officer and let it be known to the guard he was the CM. “My ego was hurt,” he admitted during the official function at the hotel, which was attended, among others, by the owner. The poor security guard was worried for his job, but Parrikar said he was not to be blamed.

At weddings, engagements and parties, Parrikar never sought special preference. He stood in queues to wish couples at weddings, never hesitated to wait for his turn in line while casting his vote, even as the country’s defence minister, and always travelled economy class. He carried his own bags, too.

In Goa, it was always easy to spot the IIT graduate. You could find Parrikar inside little-known government offices where he would pursue a file, or at a local hotel you could be seated next to the table where he would be enjoying pao bhaji and mirchi pakora. Many have seen him eating a fruit platter at a rustic roadside stall in Mapusa and gorging on bhajias during official events.

c.1978: breaking the IIT mess strike

Yogita Rao, How Parrikar ended IIT mess strike with a ladle, March 18, 2019: The Times of India


As the mess secretary of hostel 4 in IIT-Bombay, Manohar Parrikar was very strict with students and even the mess workers in those days. The Goa chief minister’s hostel mate and friend Bakul Desai, who was four years junior to him, remembers how he fined himself when his relative plucked a flower from the hostel compound one day.

Desai, who is based in Hyderabad, said that Parrikar was a stickler for accounts. “His accounts were very neat. His only focus as the mess secretary was to bring down the bills for us,” said Desai.When Desai reached the IIT-B hostel for the first time in 1978, Parrikar saved him from being ragged by seniors and that’s how they became friends.

“Mess workers decided to go on a flash strike one day during our lunch time. Parrikar decided to get into the kitchen with 40 of us and cooked for the entire hostel. It was the best meal ever. The workers returned to their work immediately after that,” said Desai.

Politics

Changing Goan politics

Manohar Parrikar — The man who changed Goan politics, March 18, 2019: The Times of India


A master strategist, who could antici­pate other people’s moves and a man of his own, Manohar Parrikar’s chutzpah couldn’t be matched by anyone. You could love him or hate him, but you couldn’t ignore him. Whether he was in the government or outside, Parrikar was synony­mous with BJP and as he took those giant steps, so did the party. From a mere 4,000 members in 1989, when Parrikar plunged into full-time politics, today there are 4.2 lakh members in a state that has a 15 lakh population.

A disciplined Sangh member, Parrikar’s tryst with the R S S started from his childhood and continued through his days at IIT-Bombay. Re­turning to Goa, after dropping out while doing post-graduation at IIT-Bombay, Parrikar continued as a sanghchalak before he was pushed into politics.

Parrikar’s political start was far from smooth. It was in 1988 that the Sangh decided to depute Parrikar to the party. In 1991, BJP, which hardly had any presence in the state, asked him to contest for the North Goa Lok Sabha seat.

“His first election as a Lok Sabha candidate secured him nearly 25,000 votes, which prompted the party to bring him into active politics. When I was the party president in 1991, he was given the charge of general sec­retary,” says Union Ayush minister and North Goa MP Shripad Naik.

Parrikar, the consummate politi­cian, mastered the art quickly and within three years, this Mapusa resident had taken over the capital city of Panaji as its elected repre­sentative, wresting the seat from Congress. Since 1994, Panaji has been impenetrable, with Parrikar guarding it for BJP. It was also the first time that BJP entered the Goa assembly with four members, and it was the first-time MLA from Panaji who rewrote Goa’s political history as the anti-corruption crusader.

“Parrikar’s firebrand personal­ity, confidence to take on the ruling front in the assembly and exposing their scams gained him popularity among the masses,” says Naik.

An expert in social re-engineer­ing in the state, Parrikar cut across caste and religious lines. He retained the discipline and simplicity that he learnt from the Sangh, but was prag­matic when it came to political equa­tions. Be it going to the church to seek blessings before filing nomina­tions or hobnobbing with the Catho­lic community in the state, Parrikar used his IITian tag and intellectual prowess to shed the image of an R S S man. With an uncanny ability to predict the opponents’ moves and outthink them with pre-emptive strikes, Parrikar was a man in a hurry to establish BJP’s footprints across the state.

“His educational qualifications, ability to raise voice against corrup­tion and vision for the development of the state helped the party to grow,” says another senior party function­ary, who worked closely with him.

So, in 2000 when he became the first IITian chief minister of the country at a young age of 44, it came as no surprise to many Goans. Parri­kar, the man, didn’t change and that en­deared him to the masses, not just in the state but across the country. His attire was simple and the trademark chappals continued to adorn his feet. His popularity soared as he stopped the traditional practice of using the bea­con for his official car, started sitting next to the driver in his official ve­hicle, became the most accessible chief minister in the post-statehood era, launched innovative schemes and showed grit and courage to get corrupt politicians arrested.

Interestingly, Parrikar became a chief minister of a state without having any experience in the government. But it was his penchant for studying the files and issues and un­derstanding the pulse of the people, which he perfected as an opposition leader, that made him grow in stature.

He understood the political dy­namics of the state that had around 27% Christian population and im­mediately built bridges with the Church, adopting a stand that devi­ated with the party’s thinking. He consciously went out of his way to please the minorities, the tribals and the OBCs. He was the true pio­neer of ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’ and despite continuing to be a fa­vourite of the Nagpur-headquar­tered organisation, he shared a good rapport with the minorities.

No wonder that in the 2012 as­sembly election, when BJP got a majority of its own with 21 seats in the 40-member House, nearly one-third of the members were from the minority community. “In 2012, the Church’s stance against corruption helped BJP. It was more an endorse­ment for Parrikar rather than the party,” says a senior functionary.

Even now, of the 14 BJP seats, seven legislators are Catholics.

A four-time chief minister of the state, Parrikar has never been able to complete his full term of five years. But that never deterred him from staying true to his work. He was the biggest asset that BJP had and its poster boy.

Parrikar was the low command and the high command, and the void that he has left behind will be dif­ficult for the party to fill.

2017

Manohar Parrikar returns as Goa Chief Minister for third time, Mar 14, 2017, The Times of India


The Supreme Court refused to stay the oath-taking of BJP's chief minister candidate Manohar Parrikar and ordered a floor test to be held in the Goa Legislative Assembly. Parrikar has been Goa's chief minister twice before and has been credited with strengthening the BJP in the coastal state.

Back as Goa Chief Minister

Manohar Prabhu Parrikar will take oath as 13th chief minister of Goa on March 14, 2017. He quit as the defence minister of India, a post he had been holding since November 2014 after first reshuffle of the Narendra Modi Cabinet. At the time, he was serving his second term as the Chief Minister of Goa.


Handpicked for central role

Parrikar, 61, was handpicked by PM Modi for the coveted defence portfolio at the Centre because of his administrative and organisational skills. He has been deputed back to revive BJP's fortunes in Goa, a state which the party has been ruling since 2012. Parrikar will replace incumbent incumbent chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar.


Handling border skirmishes

Parrikar's term as the Defence Minister was marked by a continued period of tension on the India-Pak border, following a string of Pakistan-backed terrorist strikes and ceasefire violations in Jammu and Kashmir. He also presided over the forces' surgical strikes on terrorist camps in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), and their punitive response to ceasefire violations.

Overseeing Indo-US defence ties

Parrikar has also overseen a fundamental shift in the military relationship between India and the US, with the signing of a pact that gives both countries access to each others' military facilities for logistical purposes.

MMRCA project cleared

Parrikar steered the Defence Ministry through a string of high-profile acquisitions of weaponry, many of which had been in limbo for years. Among these was the long-delayed MMRCA project which was resolved with the purchase agreement for 36 Dassault Rafale fighter jets.

From IIT-Bombay to Goa CM

Parrikar has been a member of the R-S-S since a young age, and is an alumnus of the IIT-Bombay. His first term as Goa Chief Minister was from 2000 to 2005 and his second term began in 2012.

Unbending on rules but a successful coalition builder

Vijay Desouza, March 18, 2019: The Times of India


Despite his image as unbending on rules, he was a successful coalition builder, having formed a majority government when he reached out to the Catholic community and fielded Christian candidates in 2012 and broke the state’s political fault lines.

Parrikar’s reputation was embellished by his stint as defence minister at the Centre where he led the ministry with a hands-on approach and worked to ensure transparent procedures in highvalue purchases. He had a role in speeding up the Rafale acquisition. This led to Congress chief Rahul Gandhi alleging that he was under pressure to hide wrongdoings. Rahul met him briefly in January and claimed that Parrikar said he had no hand in the “new” Rafale deal. Parrikar flatly denied discussing the issue in a conversation that lasted a few minutes. The surgical strikes on terror launchpads in POK took place during his tenure in 2017.

He was the face of BJP [in Goa], the tallest leader Goa produced, and someone who gave up the defence minister’s post to return to Goa as chief minister for a fourth stint. He had famously said that while being defence minister was fine, he missed his fish curry and rice. “

Parrikar never gave up on running the administration. There was the cabinet advisory committee of three ministers — one each from the three coalition partners — for a while but Parrikar remained the CM till the end, largely because the party couldn’t find an alternative.

His popularity cut across religious lines, despite his staunch R S S background. A swayamsewak to the core, Parrikar was ideologically wedded to the Sangh but was sufficiently accommodating to maintain the middle ground in Goa politics.

Defence minister

Rajat Pandit & Newton Sequeira, As defence minister, Parrikar oversaw 2016 ‘surgical strikes’, March 18, 2019: The Times of India


Manohar Parrikar’s promotion to the top-tier of national politics shouldn’t have surprised anyone. The Goa chief minister had proved he could deliver, and more importantly, had a big reputation for integrity. So, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on the lookout for a man to head India’s defence ministry, the search started and ended with Goa’s Mr Efficient.

Parrikar, after all, seemed a perfect fit for the defence ministry. He ensured there was little scope for scams and scandals in the sensitive ministry, and although he did take some time to learn the ropes, he left an imprint.

He set the ball rolling by ushering in some much-needed systemic reforms in the country’s largely moribund defence establishment after a “holding operation” by the risk-averse A K Antony for eight years.

Parrikar succeeded on some fronts, but failed to make headway on others. He oversaw the audacious “surgical strikes” conducted by the Indian special forces against terror launch pads in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir in September 2016, and gave the Army a free hand to “pro-actively” dominate the Line of Control after the Uri camp attack. “We don’t itch for a fight, but if someone looks at the country with an evil eye, we will gouge his eyes out and put them in his hand,” Parrikar once famously said.

Over the course of his 2.5-year stint at the defence ministry, Parrikar grabbed attention with his spontaneous quotes. Whether giving instructions to armed forces personnel to “shoot at anyone possessing an AK-47 machine gun” or comparing Pakistan to hell, he didn’t hold back. He was not just about bombastic quotes, though. It was he who ensured that emergency financial powers were delegated to the armed forces to plug their operational hollowness by purchasing optimal stockpiles of ammunition, spares and reserves for “short and intense wars”.

It was under Parrikar’s watch that India entered into an inter-governmental agreement with France to purchase the Rafale fighter aircraft. The UPA’s $20 billion deal to acquire 126 Rafale jets was found “economically unviable” and Parrikar argued 36 aircraft were sufficient to meet requirements.

He also burnt the midnight oil trying to revive the stalled process of military modernisation and acquisition. As a hands-on minister, he possessed the ability for quick decision-making, and the ministry needed exactly that if the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) had to be simplified.

At a time when the Indian Air Force’s squadron strength was dwindling, Parrikar was the one who backed the light combat aircraft Tejas. But just when things were looking bright, political compulsions forced Parrikar to return home. “If he had not prematurely gone back as Goa CM in March 2017, he would have achieved much more,” said a top official.

Parrikar, as defence minister, may have failed to push through long-pending structural reforms, but for the almost 2.5 years he spent at the ministry, he proved he was cut from a different cloth.

PARRIKAR SPEAK

I am a perfect Hindu, but that is my personal faith; it has nothing to do with government. India is a Hindu nation in the cultural sense. A Catholic in Goa is also Hindu culturally, because his practices don’t match with Catholics in Brazil. Except in the religious aspect, a Goan Catholic’s way of thinking and practice matches a Hindu’s. So, Hindu for me is not a religious term, it is cultural. I am not the Hindu nationalist as understood by some TV media — not one who will take out a sword and kill a Muslim. According to me, that is not Hindu behaviour at all. Hindus don’t attack anyone, they only do so for selfdefense — that is our history. But in the right sense of the term, I am a Hindu nationalist

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