Manohar Parrikar's Journey From Pracharak to CM
In November 2014, Manohar Parrikar had to contemplate a move to New Delhi. But after a little over two years as Goa Chief Minister, he was reluctant to do so.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar addresses the media on March 12, 2017. evening. He may return as the Goa CM.
New Delhi: In November 2014, Manohar Parrikar had to contemplate a move to New Delhi. But after a little over two years as Goa Chief Minister, he was reluctant to do so. It wasn’t until the Prime Minister, fresh off his thumping victory in the Lok Sabha elections, personally convinced him that he agreed to make the move. This was a sign, perhaps, of Narendra Modi’s confidence in him. He was, after all, the first BJP Chief Minister to endorse Modi’s candidature for the post of Prime Minister in 2013. Parrikar today must be feeling a sense of déjà vu. Once again, he has to make the shift. This time, however, he will be eager to move back to his home state.
When election results started coming in on Saturday, it became clear that the BJP had lost its hard-won majority in the 40-member Goa state Assembly. The Congress, while short of a majority, was tantalizingly close to the magic number of 21 MLAs. With 17 seats in its kitty, the Congress was just four short of forming government. The BJP was pushed to second place with 13 MLAs. To make matters worse for the saffron party, six out of eight sitting ministers, including Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, lost their own seats.
That was when the BJP looked towards its tallest leader and troubleshooter in Goa. Parrikar swept in after the poll results and soon enough, support started pouring in for the BJP. The Maharashtravadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and the Goa Forward Party (GFP), with three MLAs each, on Sunday threw their support behind the BJP. Sudhin Dhavlikar, the leader of the MGP, even went as far as to say that their support to the BJP was for the “development of Goa”. Soon, the party high command gave the nod for Parrikar becoming CM again and he even met the Governor in Panaji.
This is not the first time a struggling BJP has looked towards Parrikar in times of trouble. The defence minister has risen to the top by working on the ground. He joined the RSS at a very young age and by 26, by now an IIT Bombay graduate, he was made the sanghchalak (local director) in his home town of Mapusa. By the 1990s, he became heavily involved in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement and was one of its chief organisers in Goa. It is due to his background as a ground-level RSS worker that the Sangh, too, places great trust in him.
Parrikar’s entry into active politics happened when he was “loaned” by the RSS to the BJP. He was brought in to counter the growing clout of the MGP – an ironic fact since the MGP has supported the BJP this year. His rise within the BJP ranks was meteoric. By 1999, he was leader of opposition and in 2000, he was sworn in as Chief Minister for the third time but his tenure lasted only till February 2002. He was re-elected as CM in 2002 before his government was reduced to a minority in 2005. In 2007, BJP lost the election to a resurgent Congress. The loss did not deter Parrikar, who scripted the BJP’s comeback in 2012.
As the BJP faces a crisis in the coastal state, it looks again to Parrikar. After serving as Defence Minister for two years and four months, Parrikar returns home to take oath as Chief Minister for the fourth time in his career.
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