Tributes have poured in from across India for Goa Chief Minister and leading BJP politician Manohar Parrikar, who died on Sunday aged 63 after battling pancreatic cancer.
The Chief Minister is believed to have been battling advanced pancreatic cancer for more than a year, though the Goa state government did not confirm the exact nature of his ailment until October last year. He passed away at his private residence in Panaji at approximately 18:40 IST according to state government sources. The CM is survived by his two children; his wife Medha had died in 2001.
CM Parrikar was reportedly diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in February last year, after being admitted to the Goa Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) and later Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai with stomach pains. Amidst reports that the CM was suffering from cancer, the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) initially claimed the Chief Minister was suffering from food poisoning, then a case of “mild pancreatitis”.
“The death of Manohar Parrikar marks the conclusion of a lengthy political career”
Rumours concerning his health abounded, particularly after the Chief Minister flew to the United States to receive treatment at a specialist facility in New York. By September, the Chief Minister had returned to the US twice to avail medical attention – a total of three trips in the space of six months.
The Chief Minister also made multiple trips to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi. The most recent was in February, for a routine check-up, in which time the Chief Minister was under the care of oncologist Dr Atul Sharma at the institute’s Rotary Cancer Hospital. He was discharged from the facility and AIIMS sources reported that the CM’s condition was stable. However, recent weeks saw reports of deteriorating health, despite assurances from the CMO that the CM was in a stable condition.
The death of Manohar Parrikar marks the conclusion of a lengthy political career. He served three nonconsecutive terms as Goa’s Chief Minister, was Union Minister of Defence under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and represented Panaji in the Goa Legislative Assembly for more than twenty years. During his time as Minister of Defence, Parrikar represented Uttar Pradesh in the Rajya Sabha.
“An epitome of integrity and dedication in public life”
– President Ram Nath Kovind
President Ram Nath Kovind lauded the Chief Minister, whom he called “an epitome of integrity and dedication in public life.” The President wrote that “his service to the people of Goa and of India will not be forgotten.”
Prime Minister Modi tweeted that the CM was “an unparalleled leader. A true patriot and exceptional administrator, he was admired by all”. He praised both Parrikar’s tenure as Goa CM and as Defence of Minister. In the latter post, Modi wrote that the CM “enhanced India’s security capacities, boosted indigenous defence production and bettered the lives of ex-servicemen.” As CM, meanwhile, the Prime Minister credited CM Parrikar with leading Goa to “remarkable heights of progress”. He called him “the builder of modern Goa.”
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi similarly offered praise for the CM, calling him “one of Goa’s favourite sons.” Nirmala Sitharaman, the current Minister of Defence, wrote that she “learnt a lot” from Parrikar, calling him “a sincere, honest [and] sensitive political activist.”
“The late Chief Minister…has been laid to rest with full state honours. Thousands lined the streets of Panaji to pay their respects.”
In the aftermath of CM Parrikar’s passing, a power struggle has begun between the BJP and Congress to see who will assume control over Goa. The late Chief Minister, meanwhile, has been laid to rest with full state honours. Thousands lined the streets of Panaji to pay their respects.
Pancreatic cancer is not as prevalent in India as in other nations, but its incidence is rising in the country.
1.5 percent of Indians will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in their lifetime. The disease is often asymptomatic in its early stages and does not present with symptoms until its advanced stages. The passing of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar could raise awareness of the disease in India, offering an opportunity both to pay tribute to a leading political figure and also to appraise Indians of the dangers of ignoring stomach health and the importance of seeking treatment when it is needed.