Parrikar redeems pledge to serve Goa until death
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar passed away on Sunday evening after prolong illness, leaving behind a major political vacuum and a big question mark on the future of the BJP-led coalition Government amid attempts by the Congress to capture power in the coastal State.
Parrikar died at his private residence here. He was 63. Parrikar is survived by two sons and their families.
The Centre has announced national mourning on Monday to mark death of Parrikar.
The BJP stalwart’s health, which has been fluctuating for a year, took a turn for the worse in the past two days.
In a tweet, President Ram Nath Kovind said, “Extremely sorry to hear of the passing of Shri Manohar Parrikar, Chief Minister of Goa, after an illness borne with fortitude and dignity… An epitome of integrity and dedication in public life, his service to the people of Goa and India will not be forgotten.”
Expressing sadness over Parrikar’s death, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Deeply saddened by Manohar Parrikar’s demise; he was unparalleled leader, true patriot and exceptional administrator.”
Sources said former Defence Minister Parrikar had been on life support system since late on Saturday night. Parrikar had been unwell since February 2018 when he was diagnosed with a pancreatic ailment.
With the demise of Parrikar , the BJP-led coalition in Goa has to search for a new leader to replace him. The death of the former Defence Minister, who represented the Panaji Assembly seat, will also necessitate a fourth bypoll in Goa, where by-elections are scheduled for the Shiroda, Mandrem and Mapusa Assembly constituencies on April 23. These will held in the State along with the Lok Sabha polls.
“With CM Parrikar’s demise, the ruling coalition will have to make a fresh representation to the Governor after choosing their leader. The representation will have the letter of support,” a senior official from State Legislature Department told PTI.
“If the Governor (Mridula Sinha) is not convinced, then she will have to invite the single largest party to form Government,” he said.
Parrikar, who was Defence Minister, was sworn in as Goa Chief Minister in 2017 after he won from Panaji in the same year. In order to allow him entry into the Assembly, Panaji MLA Siddharth Kuncolienkar resigned on May 10, 2017, after which the bypoll was held.
The Congress is currently the single largest party in the State with 14 MLAs while the BJP has 13 in the 40-member Goa Assembly. The Goa Forward Party, MGP and Independents have three MLAs each while NCP has one legislator.
The strength of the House has been reduced to 36 due to demise of BJP MLA Francis D’Souza earlier this year, and Parrikar on Sunday, and resignations of two Congress MLAs Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanand Sopte last year.
After the news of Parrikar’s broke, the coalition partners have called emergency meetings. The three Goa Forward Party MLAs led by Vijai Sardesai and the MGP’s three MLAs will meet separately later in the evening.
The Congress on Saturday had staked claim to form the Government in a letter to the Governor after which the BJP had started an exercise to look for replacement of Parrikar in case of any exigency. There was speculation that Congress leader Digambar Kamat may switch side and become the Chief Minister. However, Kamat dismissed the reports as “baseless’ and said he was in Delhi to attend personal engagements.
Monday, 18 March 2019 | PNS | Panaji/New Delhi
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