Manohar Gopalkrishna Prabhu Parrikar: Fond Memories

The not-so-long life of Manohar Parrikar saw him crossing many milestones in academics, politics, administration, management…


Mumbai/New Delhi: Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar died of cancer on Sunday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was the first chief minister of any State who was an IIT product.

Parrikar used to be the mess secretary in IIT Bombay at the time of his batch. His companions of the time say he used to be very strict with students and mess workers.

His junior and friend Bakul Desai, who was with him at the hostel, recalls that once he had fined himself.

When Parrikar fined himself

Desai said that Parrikar was very tough about the accounts. He kept auditing cleanliness. His only motive was how to reduce the bill for students.

Desai recalls when he first reached the college in 1978, Parrikar rescued him from ragging and they immediately struck a friendship.

Desai explained that Parrikar was so strict about the rules that Parrikar had fined himself once his relative pluck a flower from the premises.

Made food for the whole hostel

While taking part in a programme in the IIT Bombay campus some time ago, Parrikar remembered the days of his hostel life. Desai shares an anecdote. The friend said workers had decided to go on a mass strike one day during lunch time.

Parrikar reached the mess with 40 boys and cooked for the whole hostel. “It was the best food in the world!” Desai exclaims. Workers returned to work after that incident.

“Once Parrikar caught some mess workers stealing potatoes, onions and tomatoes in their lungis,” Desai recalled.

When a hotel guard stopped Parrikar

This is a glimpse from the private life of the late Parrikar. He used to appear in ordinary clothes at any ceremony. Once he went to participate in an event organised at a five-star hotel. Even here, he sported ordinary clothes and wore sandals.

When he reached the hotel gate, the guard stopped him. Parrikar was those days the chief minister of Goa. The guard could not recognise him. Parrikar introduced himself. The embarrassed guard let him in.

Manohar Gopalkrishna Prabhu Parrikar’s began the journey of his life on 13 December 1955 in Mapusa in a middle-class family of Goa.

Achiever Parrikar

From this humble background, he successfully completed his studies in metallurgical engineering from IIT Bombay. He went on to become the defence minister of India besides being the chief minister of Goa thrice; he breathed his last in the capacity of Goa CM.
Parrikar remained a poster boy of ordinary citizens and everybody who appreciates the Indian value of ‘simple living and high thinking’.

The veteran politician of Goa is remembered also for his simplicity and survival in national politics. He breathed his last while fighting undefeatable cancer. He was active until the end of his life. He continued to discharge duties of the chief minister of Goa while fighting cancer.

From Goan politics, Parrikar joined national politics as defence minister, succeeding Arun Jaitley in 2014. In him had ended Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s search for a full-time minister for defence as Jaitley was manning the portfolio as an additional responsibility besides finance.

While he was the Union defence minister, people across the country came to know of his modest means of living. Parrikar exuded simplicity in his trademark half-sleeved shirt of a faded shade with trousers of a darker shade, spectacles and a simple watch. His thrust on technology and science made him a youth icon.

Parrikar’s wife had died in 2001 fighting cancer. Parrikar was the CM of Goa at that time too. However, he not only fulfilled his responsibility as the CM but also raised two young sons, helping them grow up to be an engineer and a businessman.

The politician

Parrikar will be remembered as a prescient politician too. In 2013, Parrikar was one of the first leaders of the BJP, who proposed the name of Narendra Modi as the PM candidate of the party.

BJP leadership entrusted Parrikar with the job of ensuring the party’s return to power in Goa and run the government with a coalition. The BJP did not have a majority after the Goa elections in 2017, but Parrikar reached Goa from Delhi and finally managed to form the government.

The Prime Minister, who believed very strongly in Parrikar’s leadership, was delighted. The Modi-Parrikar equation can be understood from the fact that the Goan leader was not only one of the earliest people who had furthered Modi’s name as the future PM from the BJP but he also constantly defended the PM over the Rafale deal.

Parrikar had been an RSS swayamsevak, pracharak, shikshak since his years in school. So acceptable was he to all communities that he became the leader of a state that is Christian-dominated. Parrikar was popular among the people of Goa as ‘a man with a plan’.

When Parrikar was the leader of the opposition in his State, in his speeches he spoke of a “new Goa”, and he was a hard campaigner against the corruption of the then Congress government.

As an opposition leader, Parrikar showed foresight in his enthusiastic speeches that made him popular in the State. After becoming CM, he took action against several Congress leaders for their corruption, especially their involvement in illegal mining in Goa. This established him as a decisive CM.

Like most people in Goa, Parrikar enjoyed playing football. During a football tournament, he said that the people of Goa were now forgetting football and playing cricket. Parrikar said in an interview that, after entering politics, he missed the IIT hostel’s fun and football.