STUNT: To woo voters Parrikar abolished the VAT on petrol and introduced schemes like Laadli Laxmi and the anti-inflation allowance called Griha Aadhaar
As everyone pays homage to Manohar Parrikar, Gavin Alvares shares a thought-provoking postmortem on the man behind the mask of good governance and shows us the other side of the story…
He was called the “tallest leader in the state” by his sycophantic followers, a “great administrator” by his obsequious stooges, and a “decisive governor” by his servile lackeys.
The reality was very different for those who could see beyond the veneer of the IIT credentials and clean image he hid behind.
Manohar Gopalkrishna Prabhu Parrikar joined the RSS young, and fully immersed himself in its poisonous culture of brahmanical hegemony and visceral hatred of the lower castes and minorities. His indoctrination further amplified his already-extreme, sociopath tendencies.
In 1992, as a young man, Parrikar travelled to Ayodhya as a Mukhya Shikshak to take up an active role as a key organizer in the infamous Babri Masjid demolition. Over 2,000 people were slaughtered in the riots that ensued thereafter, as a direct consequence of that travesty.
His hand sufficiently bloodied with the lives of innocents, Parrikar returned to Goa to contest the elections, in which he charmed the masses by being the first IITian to contest in Goa, winning for the first time in 1994 from the Panjim constituency. Upon his election as chief minister in 2000, he promptly ripped apart Goa’s decades-old fabric of secular communal harmony, by cancelling two state public holidays on Good Friday and the feast day of Saint Francis Xavier, revered by Catholics as Goa’s Patron Saint.
The move was spectacularly pointless, and served absolutely no purpose, politically or otherwise, aside from minority-baiting; but was borne simply out of sheer bloody mindedness and malice, as is the hallmark and ugliness of impotent domineering bullies.
In a perverse and grotesque attempt to polarize his constituency months before a difficult 2005 election, a Parrikar-backed mob wearing saffron bandannas, went on a rampage in Panjim’s elegant old world heritage precincts of Fontainhas and Mala, smashing the ubiquitous Portuguese-style cockerels and the unique “azulejos” adorning historic walls, whilst blackening out old Portuguese street names and plaques, in a bravura of pseudo-nationalistic thuggery.
As a footnote, the BJP lost that election, although Parrikar retained his seat. Thankfully, the Latin Quarter today has since recovered. Full of spectacularly quaint hotels, restaurants and taverns showcasing Goa’s charming colonial Indo-Iberian heritage, it is today a huge draw for the discerning tourist.
In the same year, another Machiavellian effort was made to drive the religious wedge deeper, by bringing out an RSS-funded communally charged CD on the Liberation of Goa, for “education purposes”, which showed Catholics in an extremely poor light — notwithstanding the fact this community took a leading and active part in the freedom struggle and later on, in the Opinion Poll.
Manohar Parrikar’s disregard for the rule of law was on display early on, when a hundred-strong mob instigated and fronted by his Law Minister — the ingratiating and craven Francis D’Souza of Mapusa — attacked and gutted a hotel belonging to a member of the Opposition party in broad daylight. Parrikar condoned this act, and later made Francis D’Souza his deputy chief minister.
Francis D’Souza, was later dropped from the Parrikar Cabinet on medical grounds and was being treated at tax-payer cost, in the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York for an unspecified disease.
In 2005, in order to protect his government from falling, he and the then speaker, a vernacular neanderthal called Sadanand Mhalu Shet, engineered the physical eviction by force, of independent member — the wimpy Filipe Nery Rodrigues — from the Assembly by House marshalls. Parrikar openly lied that Filipe Nery had joined the BJP and attracted disqualification for resigning from the Cabinet under Rule 289. This murder of democracy, which became a hallmark of the Parrikar modus operandi; never witnessed before in Goa; was done to reduce the numbers of those opposing his government in the no-confidence vote that eventually led to the ousting of his government.
Parrikar was a virtuoso in the art of doublespeak; a spineless, gutless, characterless chameleon who could reverse his position and contradict himself in a second. His back-pedaling on countless issues are legendary, earning him the sobriquet of a “U-Turn Master”.
He proceeded to “rule”; rather than “serve” his state; according to his whims and fancies, often using a toxic mixture of coercion, blackmail, threats, falsehoods and punishments to intimidate or suppress his perceived opponents.
He gutted and shredded government institutions, especially the police department, by forcing out and harassing honest, talented and capable officers, replacing them with a host of semi-literate, corrupt scamsters, who owed allegiance to the RSS and their peculiar brand of social engineering. Those that he could not get rid of, were transferred to remote parts or shunted out of the way, into insignificant departments, or had their promotions withheld indefinitely.
He moved to fill judicial (prosecutorial) posts with political appointees based on their affiliations, rather than capability or merit. His public prosecutors had the knack of often finding themselves on the wrong side of the law, and indeed, mostly fighting for and on the behalf of vested corporate and personal interests, instead of representing the collective interests of the Goan people. His blatantly illegal renewal of mining leases, later struck down by the Supreme court, is a prime example of his malfeasance and misplaced priorities.
He attempted to convert over 50 secular government run schools into Vidya Bharatis, the educational wing of the Sangh Parivar, whilst never actually concerning himself about the quality of education or the infrastructure of the schools. For Parrikar, education meant indoctrination, rather than instruction. But he himself studied and sent his sons to Catholic schools and then later, to the USA for further education.
He bandied about his image of a “Mr. Clean”, yet deviously proceeded to dispense vast sums of tax-payer money to friends, family and business cronies under the guise of government rents and services. The Spaces building in Patto that houses the courts, is one such example of his chicanery.
Dozens of private properties belonging to his clansmen and cronies, have similarly been rented out to accommodate government offices, at exorbitantly inflated rents.
Paradoxically, dozens of prime government properties, have been rented out to private profiteers, for nominal rents, in a perfect game of mutually beneficial pillage.
He refused to take action against other politicians he called corrupt, or against government officials caught red-handed in various acts of omission or commission. The abandoned case against the brother-in-law of the former BJP Chief Minister, Laximkant Parsekar, who was caught red-handed, is one such example.
He showered Pandurang Madkaikar and Mauvin Godinho, with his largess after they defected to his party and stood on BJP tickets. The court case against Mauvin Godinho in the Power Scam — filed by Manohar Parrikar himself — gathers dust in the Supreme Court, as the government now refuses prosecute. Apparently all sins are forgiven by Manohar Parrikar, if the spoils are shared.
Similarly, Madkaikar, who was threatened by Parrikar with investigation by the Anti-Corruption Bureau, in the case of the Old Goa Police Station Land Acquisition Scam, was given a free ride and a ministership.
Madkaikar lay recuperating in Lilavati hospital, treated at tax-payer cost following a massive stroke he suffered —allegedly as a result of popping those famous little blue pills — whilst cavorting in a Mumbai five star hotel.
He turned a blind eye to the unabashed corruption in the PWD Ministry headed by his coalition partner Sudin Dhavalikar — nicknamed ‘Mr 30%’ — of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party.
Sudin Dhavalikar, who was also treated at tax-payer cost in an upmarket private Mumbai hospital recently, continued in his usual indolent fashion, churning out sub-standard roads, unsafe buildings and shoddy public works, all under the Nelson’s eye of Manohar Parrikar.
Parrikar’s treatment of those that posed a threat to, or questioned his pre-eminent position within the BJP was ruthless — if not quite as savage as of those outside it.
The hapless Deputy Chief Minister, Francis D’Souza of Mapusa, was humiliated repeatedly and finally dropped. Vishnu Wagh was swiftly jettisoned and ostracized, even assaulted, when he became expendable.
When Parrikar left for New Delhi as India’s Defence Minister, he saved his duplicitous best for the Gadkari-backed Shripad Naik, often considered the face of the Bahujan Samaj in Goa and scuppered his chances of becoming chief minister through some deftly adroit political wrangling.
Laxikant Parsekar, who took over as chief minister was given the position only because he was considered a hopelessly incompetent loyalist and therefore of no real challenge. Parrikar kept the inept and impotent Parsekar well under his thumb, flying down from Delhi weekly to chair special Cabinet meetings in which all major decisions were taken.
Parrikar flaunted his IIT degree, and called himself a very capable engineer who “could have been highly successful in the private sector”. The now-abandoned, sinking Mala market complex built on marshy grounds and the quixotic, ill-conceived mono-rail to nowhere, are only a couple of examples of Manohar Parrikar’s unalloyed incompetence and foolhardiness.
He complimented himself of being a “problem solver” and tackling Goa’s burgeoning debt and empty treasury; a result of his numerous vote-garnering freebies. He did this in the singularly unimaginative, tired old manner; by resorting to nothing more inventive than borrowing money from the bond market, and then by borrowing even more, to repay or service the previous debt.
The debt trap Goa finds itself in will mean years of future hardship, taxation and poverty for every one of its citizens — in a state that boasts of India’s highest per capita income and arguably, the highest standard of living.
Parrikar patted himself on the back for his “trouble-shooting” abilities, once boasting how he found a place to house artefacts from the Goa State Museum, in a mere three minutes.
Yet, major issues such as education, mining, MOI, jobs and garbage that affected the everyday life of Goans remained unresolved, displaying his lack of creativity, intelligence, ability and the political will to deal with more complex issues.
After his short, ill-fated and unremarkable stint as the “out-of-his-depth” and “foot-in-the-mouth” defence minister; under whose watch the Rafale Scam was perpetrated; he found a face-saving way out of his predicament — coming back to Goa, as the chief minister of a coalition government.
This bedraggled coalition that usurped power in the last election, consisted of a motley crew of small-time thugs, crooked businessmen, party-hopping opportunists, wheeler-dealers and minor politicians.
The sophistry in the Parrikar lie of “Governance for Goans”, was exposed during the brief and truncated Assembly sessions. Insidious and mightily corrupt bills and amendments were passed, devolving huge and arbitrary powers to the politician-builder-dealer-businessman nexus.
The flawed Regional Plan 2021 which witnessed a huge civil society mobilization against it ten years ago, was quietly and slyly notified by one of the capricious junior coalition partners, with the full consent and acquiescence of Parrikar. Virtually none of the bills or amendments that were passed, had any sincere and honest intent to help the common man.
Another perfidious brain-child of Manohar Parrikar — the so-called Goa Investment Promotion Board — is nothing but an vehicle for avaricious businessmen, cronies and the politically connected, to put up massive projects in traditionally eco-sensitive zones, sucking up vast tracts of land, water, power and infrastructure, whilst bypassing all norms, permissions, regulation and scrutiny, in exchange for a slice of the purloined pie and patronage.
The ad-hoc nature of these powers, vested in the above mentioned prime specimens of grand legal larceny, are breath-taking in their audacity and thoroughly devious in their intent. Loot and let loot seems to be the new catch-phrase of Mr Clean.
Basic governance and prompt delivery of services is possibly the biggest failure of this IIT degree-brandishing alumnus as witnessed in the myriad queues outside various government offices for birth, death and marriage records or vehicle and licence renewals.
The run-around for a land mutation can take months if not years, with multiple trips to the authorities and “baksheeh” liberally dispensed.
When it was disclosed that his son Abhijat Parrikar, had his own land mutation of a vast tract of land done in a single day, Manohar Parrikar played the privilege card, arguing rather disingenuously and rhetorically and in the most ridiculously absurd manner, that if the CM’s son could not get a mutation done quickly, then what would be the plight of the common man? His son’s illegal conversions and ad-hoc planning permissions now face court scrutiny, in an upcoming legal challenge.
When he was finally diagnosed with a mysterious “pancreatic ailment” he promptly admitted himself to the prestigious Lilavati hospital in Mumbai and then to the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York for treatment, all funded by the tax payer.
The Goa Medical College where lesser Goans are normally admitted, was not good enough. It has only a very basic, semi-operational oncology department with the barest minimum of staff and virtually no equipment.
Indeed, as a knee jerk reaction to his own illness, his government finally appointed an oncology HOD who was yet to take formal charge, as late as May of 2018.
The cynical design behind the move, is that Parrikar wanted no one to point fingers at him for neglecting the GMC oncology department whilst he admitted himself into the best and the most expensive.
After all, was he not the ultimate Mr Simple — one of us, the ordinary down-to-earth Goan — untucked bush-shirt, chappals and all??
The shenanigans and drama surrounding his illness; which was described by BJP flunkeys variously as mild indigestion, stomach upset, and a pancreatic ailment; was a showcase of deceit and deception that rivalled the best in the erstwhile Soviet Union.
And in the midst of it all, was a seriously ill Manohar Parrikar, clinging on to power, refusing to let go the chair that he annexed against the mandate of the people.
He soldiered on stubbornly, neglecting governance, whilst selling out to every conceivable vested interest, jeopardizing forever Goa’s future as a viable State and irreparably harming the interest of its people. Refusing to give up power when he was quite clearly incapacitated, and nearing death, he made a final mockery of the people of Goa with his inability to abdicate the CM’s chair, hiding behind the tired old tale of “coalition politics”.
In the end, Manohar Parrikar was unable to accept or digest the fact that he; a legend in his own lunchtime; was a total, miserable, complete and utter failure as the Chief Minister of India’s smallest state.
By condoning corruption the way he did, Goa’s Mr. Clean finally became, by design, by his inaction and his silence, one of THEM.
I refuse to weep for Manohar Parrikar. Rather, I weep for the quintessential soul of Goa, that he has played a large part in destroying.
(The views expressed herein belong solely to the author and not necessarily to the Goan Observer)