Manohar Parrikar, like Narendra Modi, once gave credence to BJP’s administrative image
Panaji, March 17: He was Goa's first BJP chief minister who came to power for the first time in 2000. He then went on to become the chief executive of the politically volatile coastal state four times and on Sunday, March 17, Manohar Parrikar passed away after a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer. He was only 63.
Parrikar had also served as the defence minister of the country between 2014 and 2017 before he returned to hold the reins of power strongly in his home state after the Assembly election of 2017 that gave an indecisive verdict.
After the BJP faced flak in the election that year, one of the party's potential allies agreed to extend support only if it found Parrikar at the helm in the state. It shows the significance the man had in his state's politics.
Parrikar was often admired for his simplistic appearance in public despite being a top minister at the Centre and he was also known to be a strategy master. An IITian by education and an RSS pracharak to start with in politics, Parrikar had seen a sharp rise in the political circles of his state and after joining electoral politics in 1994, he became the Opposition leader and then the chief minister of Goa in 2000.
Though the man could not complete any of his four terms in CM's office for various reasons, the fact that he was equivalent to the BJP in Goa is undeniable. It will be interesting to see how the saffron party takes it forward in the state in the post-Parrikar years.
The likes of Parrikars, Modis, Shiv Chouhans had helped strengthen the BJP's base
Although he still is evaluated as a regional face of saffron politics, Parrikar had a national significance for BJP as well. At a time when the BJP was staring at a nation-wide expansion of its base from being just an outfit of two towering individuals - Atal Behari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani, its purpose was served by a few leaders who had come up with a reputation of good administrators at state levels and gave the apex leadership the confidence that in the future, they would be the worthy torch-bearers.
The likes of Parrikar, Narendra Modi, Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Raman Singh, who became the chief ministers of their respective states in the early 2000s, were seen as architects who would give BJP the power to make itself a national party.
It was an important requirement for the BJP then to establish itself as a party with a strong nationwide presence under the guidance of some strong local leaders and not just remain focussed to the two ageing leaders at the top who were seen more as its national face.
Yes, there were also leaders like Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Pramod Mahajan but they were more managers for the party. It was the likes of strong executives like Parrikar who convinced people that even the BJP could offer sound governance.
As one of those regional faces of the BJP, Parrikar had certainly given the BJP a strong shoulder to rely, as did Modi and others. It was hence not surprising when Modi decided to rope Parrikar in for a plum post at the Centre even as the latter felt happier to be in his own state.
Does BJP see similar strong local leaderships today?
Today, just while mourning the passing away of Parrikar, the BJP needs to do some reality digging. Has the party seen leaders of similar administrative acumen any more after that generation of leaders went ahead with their respective journeys?
Modi is now the prime minister of the country while Chouhan and Singh lost power last December after a prolonged stay. Parrikar now also exits. Who really carries forward the legacy of these reputed former chief ministers of the BJP?
The likes of Yogi Adityanath in UP, Biplab Deb in Tripura or Manohar Lal Khattar in Haryana haven't been the saffron party's best-known CMs. If there is indeed a dearth of the party's next-generation leaders, shouldn't it be worried about prolonging its legacy in the upcoming times?