Ailing Parrikar must quit

PTI photo.

It is shocking to see a sick Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar these days. Despite ailing gravely, he is continuing as the chief minister and the BJP, to which he belongs, seems to have no qualms over it. Parrikar is suffering from pancreatic cancer. Some may praise him for working despite his ill-health, but it has raised questions about his ability to administer the state effectively under such debilitating circumstances. The chief minister, who was first admitted to a Goa hospital in February last year for “abdominal pain and food poisoning”, was shifted to Mumbai and from there to the United States where he was treated for three months. He has been in and out of hospitals during the past one year, besides travelling to the US for treatment on three occasions. The extent of the chief minister’s poor health was on full display recently when he was unable to even rise to present the budget in the assembly and had to be permitted by the Speaker to remain seated and read a truncated version of the estimates. The seriousness of his condition was brought home by Goa Deputy Speaker Michael Lobo who said, “Parrikar is very unwell. He is living only with God's blessings.”

Various reasons are being ascribed to Parrikar’s continuance in office. The 2017 elections threw up a hung assembly and the BJP could form a government with the help of smaller outfits and independents who extended support on the condition that Parrikar, who was then defence minister, would be repatriated back to the state as chief minister. Parrikar has held this fragile coalition together and the BJP apparently fears that his exit might lead to the government’s fall, given the absence of any other credible leader within its ranks. The BJP is thus accused of playing with Parrikar’s life only to ensure the longevity of its government. Parrikar himself has given an emotional touch to the issue, insisting that he would like to serve his state with “sincerity, integrity and dedication until my last breath”.

Whatever be the reason for Parrikar remaining in office, it is imperative that the state’s welfare takes precedence over other political, personal or emotional considerations. The chief minister’s indisposition and regular hospitalisation have begun to impact the state’s health, which is likely to deteriorate if the present impasse continues. Rest, it is said, is the best medicine and it would be prudent for Parrikar to quit as chief minister, recuperate and bounce back with renewed vigour. This would be in the best interest of both Parrikar and Goa.

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