A year on, Parrikar battles cancer

But now that the mainstream media has began identifying Parrikar's illness as an advanced stage of pancreatic cancer, some of his close colleagues have shown their increasing impatience— a tendency to speak out of turn and some of them have even sniped at the ailing politician. PTI file photo.

Nearly a year after the news first emerged of the seriousness Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar's (63) health, the BJP leader's severe ill-health continues to affect him, his party and the small state of 1.6 million people.

Parrikar remains in charge of the government and his larger-than-life personality means that he dominates the party too.

But now that the mainstream media has began identifying Parrikar's illness as an advanced stage of pancreatic cancer, some of his close colleagues have shown their increasing impatience— a tendency to speak out of turn and some of them have even sniped at the ailing politician.

In recent months, Parrikar has appeared in public with a tube attached to his nostril, he looks frail and sometimes needs help to stand and walk.

But this has not stopped him from making it clear 'who's in charge.'

Last week, Parrikar presided over the launch of a third 5.13 km bridge over the Mandovi river, to clear congestion in a bottleneck area that connects state capital Panaji with north Goa, a key tourist belt and part of the mining heartland too.

Incidentally, the mining industry is facing a crisis— it's in a shutdown after a strange set of developments.

It started with the BJP raising issues against mining when it was in the Opposition prior to the 2012 elections, and then finding itself unable to manage the snowballing controversy to convince its party colleagues in New Delhi and the courts about the need to restart mining.

This incidentally is an issue which directly afflicts many BJP supporter in Goa.

The state's Budget— which was presented by Parrikar, who spoke for a few minutes, earlier this month— painted a rosy picture of the state's economy, though the reality is not the same.

The jury is out and divided over how seriously the chief minister's illness has afflicted the state, but Parrikar— as he did in the best of times— continues to polarise public opinion between his strong supporters, who see him as a valiant hero doing his best for Goa, and critics, who portray him as a politician unable to give up power.

While some have blamed the BJP leadership for not letting him concentrate on his health to avoid losing a small but critical government south of the Vindhyas, others believe that it is Parrikar's determination to continue in power.

Top party colleagues, too, have publicly conceded that Parrikar's absence from the state leadership could make the BJP government in Goa rather unworkable.

Meanwhile, Parrikar's visits to the top global cancer treatment facility, the Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City, has been replaced by occasional trips to the AIIMS, New Delhi. 

The Parrikar government has had a phenomenally unlucky stint with health issues, with reports just emerging that former BJP deputy chief minister Francis D'Souza being critical and on ventilator support after suffering from colon cancer.

In 40 member house, where the BJP majority is tenuously posed even without such challenges, about 3 to 4 other prominent politicians have also had major health issues. 

(By special arrangement)

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A year on, Parrikar battles cancer

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