Manohar Parrikar dies fighting cancer at 63, nation goes into mourning

From being an IITian, to an ordinary RSS pracharak and then emerge as a top minister in the Union Cabinet, Manohar Parrikar had an illustrious, yet simple life till his last breath on March 17. Manohar Parrikar passed away in his home state, Goa, on Sunday, at the age of 63.

Manohar Parrikar was fighting a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer.

The four-time Goa chief minister was among the few from Goa who made it to the national level. Manohar Parrikar held the defence portfolio in the Modi government since 2014, till the time he returned to his first love, Goa, to take over the chief minister’s post.

Manohar Parrikar is remembered as the “original aam aadmi” by fellow politicians, journalists and Goans alike. Parrikar enjoyed a man-next-door image who navigated Goa’s politics for two decades and became BJP’s crisis man in the coastal state.

Manohar Parrikar enjoyed a long association with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) since his childhood days.

An admitted workaholic who insisted on leading a simple life, Parrikar, a metallurgist by training, was a leader who enjoyed acceptance from all sections of the BJP and beyond. Parrikar played a key role in making the BJP a force to reckon with in Goa, which was until then a Congress bastion, with regional outfits having pockets of influence.

There are many accounts of his spartan style — security personnel seeing him arriving at the airport in a rickshaw, carrying his own luggage wearing rumpled bush shirts and chappals in north block.

A known fighter, an ailing Parrikar’s decision to go for a ride and inspect two upcoming bridges in the state with a feeder tube protruding from one nostril was a defining image and sought to suggest he is still in-charge of the state.

His health started deteriorating in February 2018 and he was first admitted at Mumbai’s Lilavati Hospital for pancreatic ailment. He was flown to the US in the first week of March last year where he remained admitted at hospital till June.

Parrikar stunned everyone when he reached the CM’s office on January 2 this year after a gap of almost two-and-a-half months.

He also attended the budget session on January 29 and presented the state Budget the next day.

During the last few days, Parrikar had been in and out of Goa Medical College and Hospital for treatment, but was mostly confined to his private residence.

With his passing, President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation in paying tributes to the much-loved Goa chief minister.

President Kovind made the announcement of Manohar Parrikar’s death with a tweet at 7:59 pm on Sunday. Soon, tributes started pouring in and the Opposition and ruling dispensation came together to mourn the stalwart.

The Centre has declared national mourning on Monday to grieve Manohar Parrikar. National flags will fly at half-mast in Delhi and across the capitals of all the states and union territories.

Parrikar’s last rites will be held in Panjim on Monday and top political leaders of the country are expected to reach Goa for the ceremony.

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