Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, 63, passed away at his private residence in Panaji after battling pancreatic cancer for over a year.
His death is likely to put the BJP government in Goa in trouble. Parrikar’s presence was what helped the party form the government after losing the majority in the last Assembly polls and sustain despite efforts to topple it.
The former defence minister, the BJP’s go-to man in Goa, breathed his last around 6.45 pm on Sunday, after his condition deteriorated two days ago. He is survived by two sons.
Parrikar, who was was diagnosed with the ailment in February last year, was on life support system since Saturday night. While there was speculation about his condition during the day, it was President Ram Nath Kovind who announced his death through a tweet.
Parrikar’s last rites will be performed at Miramar in Goa on Monday evening.
Parrikar was the BJP face in Goa and his acceptability across the spectrum forced the BJP to make him work till his last day, for the survival of the government. Congress president Rahul Gandhi described Parrikar as “one of Goa’s favourite sons”.
The latest development could lead to political upheaval in the state where the BJP is in minority and is ruling the state after entering into post-poll understandings. In a House of 40, there are four vacancies, including Parrikar’s. The BJP has 12 MLAs and allies MGP and GFP three each. Three independents support the BJP.
Cong stakes claim
The Congress had on Saturday staked claim to form the government, saying the BJP government lost majority with the death of MLA Francisco D’Souza. Soon after Parrikar’s death, the Congress again staked claim, saying parties got together with the BJP on the condition that Parrikar should lead if the BJP wanted to form the government. Meanwhile, the BJP-led coalition in Goa began talks to find a new leader.
“This unfortunate development (Parrikar’s death) calls for immediate action on your part for smooth transition and transfer of power,” it said.
In a letter to the Governor, Goa Congress chief Girish Chodankar said the coalition partners of the Parrikar government had said they allied with the BJP government on the condition that it will be headed by Parrikar.
Earlier in the day, there was tension in the Congress amid reports that its leader and former chief minister Digambar Kamat flew down to Delhi to negotiate with the BJP. Kamat, however, dismissed the reports as rumours and said he would attend the Congress Legislature Party meeting on Monday.