BY ATMARAM NADKARNI
There are very few people, who come into our lives and become such an integral part of it that it is extremely difficult, almost impossible, to imagine life without them.
Manohar Parrikar, the man we all knew and loved, was one such person for me.
Manohar was one of the finest, nicest and smartest men I have known. He was a principled man whose intellect and hard work made him formidable. Many people call Manohar a politician. I’m not saying that he wasn’t one, but he was far beyond it.
In fact, we gelled instantly due to our mutual respect for integrity and character.
My association with Manohar actually goes back to many decades. I was Advocate General for the state of Goa in a break-away Congress led-government where Francisco Sardinha was the chief minister.
Manohar was the leader of opposition then. On October 24, 2000, after he became the chief minister, I promptly tendered my resignation to the then governor as was incumbent upon me then as the Advocate General in the earlier government.
Manohar then promptly re-appointed me as Advocate General in his government.
He had indeed seen me work as one and read various opinions rendered. I obliged as I admired the integrity, honesty, drive and vision that this man had.
What began as a professional relation grew leaps and bounds with Manohar becoming not only one of my closest friends but a part of my family.
He would come home and relish Goan food cooked by my mother while simultaneously discussing issues in the state and seeking legal opinions on the same.
Manohar always sought legal opinions on government matters and it is to his credit that he always honoured the law and never wanted to be on the wrong side of law.
One other quality of this great person is the brilliance with which he grasped matters of highly complicated nature. This is a rare quality in any person, especially, a politician of his stature.
Perhaps credit for it goes to his Indian Institute of Technology background.
A great human being who inspired not just Goans but Indians too to wish having him as their leader.
Manohar, a simple man, was always a workaholic, who achieved great strides in life and only inspired me to do better.
His vision for Goa was phenomenal and I don’t think anyone can replicate it or even come close, for that matter.
The development that has taken place in Goa is owed to that man. In fact, now, it is difficult to imagine Goa without all infrastructure that it has now, all thanks to this great visionary. Having a vision is one thing but actually having the acumen, courage, tactfulness and intellect to carry it out is what set Manohar apart.
He was very attached to his family and I think at one point of time, over many, many years of hard work and dedication, Goa became his family. Even when he made Goa proud by becoming the defence minister for India, and an exemplary one at that, he still missed his bhaji-pao and his prawn curry rice.
It was his love for Goa and Goans and also Goa’s love for Manohar, which made him, come back to Goa. You can take a Goan out of Goa but not Goa out of the Goan.
He also at times felt the absence of his wife Medha.
The last year was very difficult for such a headstrong man to come to terms with the fact that he had a life threatening illness.
Manohar was a fighter and he fought hard. Even at this point in life, he prioritised his love for Goa and his work above even himself.
He promised to work for Goa till his last breath and he did. Such was his integrity and work ethic.
I consider his sons Utpal, Abhijat and their families to be a part of my family and I know this has been a very difficult time for them.
It is his upbringing and their good nature that has persevered them to take utmost care of their father and give him their best during these trying times. Many-a-times our families would ring in the New Year together and we have had some great memories together.
To me, Manohar was a leader, a visionary, an intellect, a family man, a true Goan, but above all a good friend. I will always remember him that way. His spirit will live on. Om Shanti.
(The author is the Additional Solicitor General of India and has been a close friend of Manohar Parrikar, for many years)
Source:: The Navhind Times