I want to narrate a small incident which I had heard from my cousins last September. ‘Bhaie’, as everyone in Goa referred to Manohar Parrikar had arrived at the airport and was on his way to Panaji. He had asked for some files. The trip takes around 40 minutes. He asked the driver to go slow at around 40 kms/ hour so that the journey could take 60 minutes giving him enough time to complete the files. As it happened, the files were completed within allotted 60 minutes.
Goa is abuzz with such mini- stories. It might not seem like a great deal but it tells us a lot about the man’s work ethics. Not even a minute was wasted. Call him a workaholic or a Karma-Yogi, the fact remains that he was obsessed, with his work and with Goa. Everyone remembers ‘Bhaie’ standing on the road himself to get projects completed in time. Roads were completed in record time, from years the time taken was reduced to months. Even some failures (Metro Skybus Project), tell the story of how passionate he was to try out something new.
How many of you have taken a selfie with this background in Goa?
Well, it wasn’t always like this. Not before Parrikar took over.
In a country like ours, where electoral considerations force political appointments, he became the Raksha Mantri – purely on merit. That he gave up the ministry willingly to return to ‘Amchya Goyan’ is an altogether different story. It will be a long time before Goa and this country sees someone like him again.
I have seen cancer patients up close. Cancer first robs the body of strength and then of its will. What motivated him to work till the last moment, even with such deteriorating health is something that I will never be able to understand. He was our pride, a household name in Goa. He put Goa on India’s political map. I remember my cousins mentioning that he intended to complete the Atal Sethu before 26th Jan, we were not sure whether he will make it given his health. But fortunately, he did.
The measure of a leader should be how the common man on the street reacts when he is no longer around. Today, all my Goan whatsapp groups which are usually full of activity are either silent or have exchanged a couple of sincere messages on ‘Bhaie’s demise. A relative who is an active INC member sent out a message telling how much he admired Parrikar.
For years to come, every CM in Goa will be measured against Parrikar. It will be difficult for a non-Goan to understand this, but today for me and for many Goans, this feels like a personal loss.