If someone has truly lived the motto, ‘Simple Living and High Thinking, it has to be one man – Manohar Parrikar. As the nation mourns his untimely demise, let us take a look how a simple boy from Mapusa town of Goa rose to become one of the most powerful, yet most popular of all politicians that India has ever seen.
Born on 13 December 1955, in Mapusa, in Goa, Manohar Parrikar was a simple, yet an ambitious person. He joined the RSS as a Tarun Swayamsevak, and by the time he completed his schooling, he was the Chief Instructor at one of the shakhas. He soon joined Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (now Mumbai), from where he graduated in the discipline of metallurgical engineering.
After graduating, he started a private business of his own, while continuing to serve Goa through the RSS. He was instrumental in popularizing the Ram Janmabhoomi movement of the 90s in states like Goa, Maharashtra etc. It was after seeing his brilliance, that his seniors in RSS recommended him to join BJP, in order to further serve the people according to the ideals he cherished. His motto was clear: Serve people until the last breath.
At the young age of 39, Manohar Parrikar was elected as MLA from the Panaji constituency. This was the moment when Manohar’s political brilliance emerged in the open. Without making any fanfare, he improved the efficiency of the local cadres, and within 6 years, BJP, who was struggling for years to acquire power in Goa, was now the ruling party.
Though he was evicted in 2005 months before the completion of his 5-year term, Manohar Parrikar had earned the overwhelming respect of the entire Goa, something very few politicians can claim in their whole life.
Manohar Parrikar’s modesty is the stuff of legends. An amusing anecdote about him mentions that he was traveling on his scooter, when he crashed into a swanky car, driven by a spoilt brat of some powerful MLA. The rich brat came out and bullied Parrikar, reminding him of his father’s ‘power’. To which Parrikar cheekily replied, “Look son, driving a car at such speeds is not feasible for you. By the way, I’m the CM of Goa.”
In a turbulent political environment of 2013, when everyone staked claim to power, it was Manohar Parrikar who recommended the name of Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial candidate. The rest, as they say, is history.
Like a true blue friend, PM Modi never forgot the benevolence of the modest statesman that Manohar Parrikar had been. Soon after assuming power in 2014, PM Modi invited Manohar Parrikar to assume the post of the Defence Minister. He was re-elected as the CM of Goa with a clear majority in 2012 and was naturally reluctant to leave his beloved state. However, on the insistence of PM Modi, he assumed the post of the Defence Minister. For many, this was the post that brought out the real warrior in Manohar Parrikar.
For the next 2 and a half years, Manohar Parrikar changed the Defence Ministry drastically. A ministry, which had become a laughing stock for one and all, was now one of the most respected ministries in the incumbent government, all due to the simple, yet efficient measures taken by Manohar Parrikar. It is because of his initiatives that the Indian armed forces were given a free hand to deal with any kind of terrorism, and the results for all to see. During his tenure as Defence Minister, the country conducted surgical strikes across the Line of Control after the terror attack in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir.
Under Manohar Parrikar, the women in the armed forces were given more freedom, especially with a graded, step by step entry into the combat operations, which were earlier unavailable to them. He acted hard against any kind of bureaucratic delay and was heavily instrumental in reinstating the system of One Rank One Pension, along with clearing the Rafale deal without any hassles, a rarity in Indian history. Kargil war hero and the then Army Chief, General Ved Prakash Malik (Retd.), in his obituary, specifically lauded the role of Parrikar on clearing the road for the same.
RIP Manohar Parrikar. A person with high moral values and simple life style. Worked hard in MoD for procurements, self reliance, welfare and morale in the armed forces. Deserves major credit for ensuring award of OROP at present level. A big loss for the country.
— Vedmalik (@Vedmalik1) March 17, 2019
All in all, Manohar Parrikar is one of the best statesmen that India has been blessed with. His modest, yet pragmatic approach to the public administration made him a hero of the masses, a man with few haters. The country has no doubt lost a true leader and a statesman.