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A man with an impeccable personality, A human being par excellence, A hard core politician The roar of a lion has silenced forever…..
Manohar Gopakrishna Prabhu Parrikar was a staunch R.S.S., by heart, a committed BJPian, the most beloved Chief Minister of our lovely state of Goa, a charismatic Raksha Mantri of India…..one can go on and on and on about…
His journey from being an IITan to the Chief Minister of Goa, to the Raksha Mantri of the nation , back to being the Chief Minister of Goa has been one, with lots of ups and downs, the highs and lows, but the man pulled off all of them very capably and in a rather smooth manner. Humility is important for a man to be a politician is a lesson one can take from the life of Hon. Shri Manohar Parrikar.
The son of the soil has passed away after having valiantly fought against major health issues which did not stop him from working for his people even until his last breath.
Born into a Mapusa based, Hindu Goan Saraswat Brahmin family on 13 December, 1955, Manohar completed his scholastic education at Loyola High School Margao and went on to complete his B.Tech in Metallurgy from amongst the most premier institutes like IIT Bombay. He was conferred with the distinguished alumnus award by IIT Bombay.
Just Google Manohar Parrikar and one will get hoards of information about him but the Manohar Parrikar (lovingly and respectfully known as BHAIEE by all goans) that we have worked with, and know ever since…was a man with a comforting hand and golden heart for not only the people of Goa but for all those people with whom he interacted during his lifetime, till the day he passed away.
Everyone would know about the great feet he achieved during his political career since 1994. From the “one rank one pension” to the “surgical strike” during his tenure as a Raksha Mantri” of India, Manohar Parrikar has been involved in a lot of major political decision making, which have been quite pivotal in nature, but I wonder if all would know of small incidents in his life which have majorly gone a great way in making positive changes in the lives of people.
This is an incident narrated by Hon Smt Smriti Irani herself. When he was on a campaign tour accompanying her in one of the constituencies, he saw people walking bare footed in the village. In spite of having no connection with that constituency this incident touched his heart so much that he had 25000 pairs of footwear, sent to the people of that constituency.
Like him or hate him, every goan will vouch for the many many humanitarian schemes that he started for the people of Goa.
Deen Dayal Suraksha Yojana which is an insurance scheme for the people of Goa, Laadli Lakshmi where One Lakh of rupees is deposited into the account of every girl child upon turning 18 or just after her marriage, the monthly pension scheme given to housewives who have no independent earnings of their own, the monthly pensions given to senior citizens, distributing free laptops to higher secondary students, the loans which he made available to educated unemployed youth to start their own business and the loans that he made available to women entrepreneurs….these are just to name a few.
There are still many many schemes which Bhaiee has implemented in Goa, which I must admit, I am not even aware of, and I am sure many will agree that a great percentage of population in Goa is also not aware of.
The most remembered and talked off will be the time when he reduced the petrol rates so drastically that vehicles of non goan registration were seen to fill petrol in their vehicles as petrol at that time was way more expensive in other states.
At the time of taking decisions in politics was concerned, he took people into confidence and asked for the views of his voters, views of his karyakartas. Views of his people mattered to Parrikar , however minor they may be, he would call for his karyakartas, have one to one meetings with them and listen to their views. This would help him take unbiased decisions may it be small matters like which karyakarta would be of greater influence in a particular ward or a constituency to more complex matters like who should be given a ticket to contest from which constituency.
There was a lot of resistance against him joining politics from his family but he managed to convince them to relent when he realised that it was the need of the hour.
Once he joined politics there was no looking back. He gave his all to the service of his people. When Goa celebrated the 60th Birthday of their beloved Bhaiee, while addressing the people, Bhaiee could not but remember his parents and his beloved wife Medha, who he lost to cancer in the year 2001, when his two sons Utpal and Abhijat were very small in age.
Although this incident happened when he was at the helm of his political career his confidence never talk a back seat. Bhaiee openly stated in his address on his 60th Birthday celebrations… and I quote….”But public never allowed me to feel her absence. I am at this political position due to the love given by people of Goa.”…unquote…
It was Manohar Parrikar who proposed the name of Hon Shri Narendra Modiji as the Prime Ministerial candidate of BJP at a rally in Goa itself before the General elections in 2013.
So fearless and down to earth was the man that he touched the hearts of his people by doing things like attending private functions of his voters, moving in public without any security even at the time when he was the Raksha Mantri of the country, moving in the city on scooters and private vehicles of common people of Goa, walking in and seating besides commoners in flights and chatting with them even at the peak of his political career .
He would personally supervise the construction works of roads and buildings unannounced at odd hours of the day or night at the time when Goa was selected as the permanent location for hosting the International Film Festival (IFFI) .
The new bridge across river Mandovi, Atal Sethu was a dream come true for him.
Even when his health did not permit and neither did the medical fraternity, Manohar Parrikar made it a point to come and personally visit the bridge site when construction work was in full swing and attend the inaugural function of the bridge where he asked his Janta….”How’s the Josh”… This became a punchline which went viral all over.
Many called his an arrogant politician but he was in fact a straightforward politician who drew criticism for many of his actions and decisions from time to time but never relented to negative pressures. He took his decisions and stood by them and was a pillar of strength for not only his small state of Goa but even for his vast nation, India.
I am sure the majority of the people will agree with me when I say that Indians felt that they were in safe hands during his tenure as the Raksha Mantri of the nation
Parrikar was so much in love with the people of Goa and his fish curry rice that even as the Raksha Mantri of the nation he did not give up even the smallest opportunity of being in Goa. Even if it meant coming to Goa in the morning and flying back to Delhi in the evening.
He did all this just as a lay person would do, without any major security or special aircrafts to fly to Goa and back to Delhi. Holi was one of Bhaiees favourite times which he loved to spend time with his people in Panaji. “BJP chi holi” was a term that we Panjimties had coined.
It was customary that all the people would gather at the Panaji Gramdevata Sri Mahalaxmi Temple in the morning, take blessings of Goddess Mahalaxmi and amongst the beats of the dhol, tasha and distribution of sweets and application of colours he would walk with all the people from the Temple to a ground named Azad Maidan, where pre planned preparations of holi were made for people to play colour.
There was a live orchestra with all the songs of holi and the latest foot tapping music and a long counter for food and drinks and chairs to sit. A facility, which people could avail of when playing colour. So infectious it was that even foreign tourists who were in Panaji on that day would join in the singing, dancing and the playing of colour. After being with the people for a long time, Bhaiee would then move to his next destination. This year was however Holi was not the same and Holi will never be the same for Panjimites, especially his voters and karyakartas. Four days after Bhaiee passed away, was Holi and Panaji wore an orphaned, dead and deserted look…All roads were empty, all the shops were closed….
There was no music. There was no colour…. Goa had lost its beloved son forever….never to return..
The Nation had lost a charismatic politician forever…never to return….
But…. the show must go on…..