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Parrikar loses battle with cancer

Parrikar loses battle with cancer

Panaji: Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar passed away at his private residence here on Sunday evening after a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 63.

The condition of Parrikar, diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer in February last year and in and out of hospitals in Goa, Mumbai, Delhi and New York since then, had turned "extremely critical" on Sunday, the Chief Minister's Office tweeted earlier in the day.

President Ram Nath Kovind expressed his grief.

"Extremely sorry to hear of the passing of Shri Manohar Parrikar, Chief Minister of Goa, after an illness borne with fortitude and dignity," he said in a tweet.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, "Shri Manohar Parrikar was an unparalleled leader. A true patriot and exceptional administrator, he was admired by all."

Other leaders, cutting across party lines, mourned his death.

The first Bharatiya Janata Party leader to be Goa Chief Minister, Parrikar headed the state from 2000-05 and 2012-14, before joining the Narendra Modi government as Defence Minister from 2014.

The country's first Indian Institute of Technology alumnus to serve as Chief Minister of a state, he assumed the mantle on four occasions from 2000, but could not complete a single full term in office.

The four-time Chief Minister had been seen in public outings over the past few months with a nasal tube and a frail form, which provoked opposition attacks on the ruling BJP. But in January this year, he had famously said that he "will serve Goa till my last breath."

Manohar Parrikar was known for his impeccable record and simple lifestyle. He was a leader accessible to the people and was often sighted enjoying a ride on his scooter.

With Parrikar's demise on Sunday, the BJP-led coalition in Goa has to search for a new leader to replace him.

He was heading a coalition government comprising the BJP, Goa Forward Party, MGP and Independents.

The death of the former defence minister, who represented the Panaji assembly seat, will also necessitate a fourth bypoll in Goa, where by-elections are scheduled for the Shiroda, Mandrem and Mapusa assembly constituencies on April 23. These will held in the state along with the Lok Sabha polls.

"With CM Parrikar's demise, the ruling coalition will have to make a fresh representation to the governor after choosing their leader. The representation will have the letter of support," a senior official from State Legislature Department said.

"If the governor (Mridula Sinha) is not convinced, then she will have to invite the single largest party to form a government," he said.

Parrikar, who was defence minister, was sworn in as Goa chief minister 2017 after he won from Panaji in the same year.

The Congress is currently the single largest party in the state with 14 MLAs while the BJP has 13 in the 40-member Goa assembly. The Goa Forward Party, MGP and Independents have three MLAs each while NCP has one legislator.

The strength House has been reduced to 36 due to the demise of BJP MLA Francis D'Souza earlier this year, and Parrikar on Sunday, and resignations of two Congress MLAs Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanand Sopte last year.

After the news of Parrikar's broke, the coalition partners have called emergency meetings.

The three Goa Forward Party MLAs led by Vijai Sardesai and the MGP's three MLAs met separately on Sunday evening.

Following the death of Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, the centre has announced a national mourning Monday and declared the National Flag will fly at half-mast across the country.

The four-time chief minister will be accorded a state funeral. A meeting of the Union Cabinet has been called at 10 am as well.

Manohar Parrikar's body is to be kept at the BJP head office in Panaji on Monday morning.

People will pay their final respects to the former defence minister from 11 am to 4 pm at Kala Academy in the state capital.

The funeral procession will begin at 4 pm and the last rites will be performed at 5 pm at SAG grounds in Campal, approximately 4km from Panaji. See P7

PTI

PTI

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