The Parrikar vacuum - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Monday 18 March 2019

The Parrikar vacuum

By Ajai Shukla
Editorial comment, Business Standard
19th March 2019

With the passing of Manohar Parrikar, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has lost not just a successful chief minister and former defence minister, but also one of its few leaders with the ability and will to bridge the political spectrum and reach out to Goa’s minority Catholic and Muslim communities. True, much of this has to do with Mr Parrikar’s origins in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious state, where religious polarisation does not wins election. Even so, he deserves credit for rising above his Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh origins, obtaining a modern scientific education, working as a technology entrepreneur and, later, providing Goa a relatively liberal, tolerant administration during three tenures as chief minister, two of them truncated.

Opinion is divided on his effectiveness as defence minister, but Parrikar quickly understood the need to empower the private sector to drive indigenous defence production. His willingness to throw open the doors of his office to private industrialists won him a loyal following in the private sector and provided him a valuable reality check on the advice provided by sometimes hidebound administrators who preferred the status quo. He established a “Saturday Club” where he, or his senior officials, met regularly with executives of private defence industry leading to a better understanding within the defence ministry of how the private sector was institutionally discriminated against in defence manufacture. Parrikar did more to “level the playing field” than any other defence minister before or after.

Facing a ministerial culture where decisions were often held up by the fear of consequences, Parrikar replaced what he openly criticised as a “culture of suspicion” with his own bold decision-making style that cleaved through the Gordian knot of One Rank, One Pension; and other issues that his predecessors preferred to avoid. The ambitious deadlines he set for himself suggested he would have liked to move faster. The reality, however, is that he could not.

Throughout his 28 months as defence minister, Parrikar remained acutely aware of the importance of retaining a secure political base. Functioning from New Delhi, he remained the de facto chief minister of Goa, flying down on most weekends to set policy and adjudicate disputes within a fractious coalition. His stature across the political spectrum in Goa was underlined after the 2017 elections, when the Congress emerged the largest party, but the BJP persuaded smaller parties and independents to form a coalition around Parrikar. That took him back to Goa where, despite falling critically ill, he continued functioning as chief minister till the end. 

Political turmoil in Goa following his death vindicates Parrikar’s belief that he was all that held the BJP-led coalition together. Without a BJP leader who can match his stature, coalition partners like the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and the Goa Forward Party are reconsidering the cost of their support. Leaders from these politically opposed parties have made it clear that they had come together under Mr Parrikar, not the BJP. In its letter to the Governor demanding a smooth transition, the Congress has paid Parrikar a backhanded compliment, writing: “Now, after Mr Parrikar’s death, BJP has no allies.” The BJP, which has been on the lookout for more talent in the government, will surely feel his absence.


  1. Why make concessions for fascists, despite having having a popular charm and he was nevertheless the leader a party which has divided the country.
    He did praise Savakar and Golwalker in his speeches at not only RSS and other political functions, but at functions hosted by Government of India.
    So having read Savakar and Golwalker I can only but conclude, this man was not educated.
    On another occasion at a university gathering he described the inspiration the army got for the surgical strikes was from RSS trained directors, then went on to say the directors were the Defence minister (himself) and Prime Minister both trained by the RSS.
    He hosted Modi who was chief minister of Gujarat just after the riots and was full of praise for him.
    Here is an extract of a report on how Parrikar’s RSS ideologically motivated mobs had done several weeks previous to Modi’s Goa visit, Julio Reberio commissioner of Police, Bombay, to the special investigative team on the Gujarat riots August 2007
    “Congress MP Ehsan Jafri could not be saved from the mobs. After making more desperate phone calls to bureaucrats in all levels of government, including the “Director General of police, the Police Commissioner, the Chief Secretary, Jafri was murdered mercilessly without any police intervention. In fact, well aware of the notion that he was a specific target, Jafri was dragged out of his own house . . . and asked to say, “Vande Mataram! and “Jai Shri Ram! He refused. His fingers were chopped off and he was paraded around in the locality, badly injured. Next, his hands and feet were chopped off. Then he was dragged, a fork-like instrument clutching his neck, down the road before being thrown into the fire”
    Julio Reberio is a police officer I admire for his integrity and dedication to the service.
    Parrikar was a RSS man to his core and got his drive and motivation from a fascist organisation.




  3. NSR says ---

    May his soul rest in peace...

    He is an engineer and accomplished a lot in making Indian defense better...
    The other Distinguished RMs that contributed like him to India are
    Sri George Fernandes may his soul rest in peace too... he was really brutalized...
    Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman and she is really kicking asses… I hope she wins again and becomes a RM and pushes Indian defense to the ultimate...

    1. Really... Nirmala Sitharaman. By far the most damaging Raksha Mantri that we have ever had. All cantonments and roads are now open to terror attacks thanks to her witless or politically perverted decision.

      Free rations have been removed for the armed forces.

      MoD openly and routinely stops disability pension to wounded veterans.

      If the BJP is serious about Armed Forces Welfare and the defence of India, we need VK Singh as Defence minister. Plain and simple.

  4. Sanjiv Bhatt is currently arrested after all these years, and is in prison, still facing the ongoing wrath of the powers-that-be on trumped up charges, why is this RSS Pracharak still afraid.
    Dy Commissioner Sanjiv Bhatt testified at the enquiry that at 10AM, on the day of Easan Jafri’s death Modi asked him what kind of man was Easan Jafri and if he is a violent man, Bhatt has alleged that that somebody in the CM office, had been apprised of the latest situation by leaders of the Bajrang Dal and the VHP, who were in contact with the mob at the Gulberg society -
    Bhatt has alleged Modi knew that Easan Jafri had fired his revolver at the mob soon after it happened.
    Jafri was lynched much later and the mob hesitated to attack the house, it was when Jafari came out that he was lynched. RSS leaders have openly said that if Jafari had not fired he would be alive today.
    The affidavits of other police officers at the enquiry mention that Modi had unknown (independent of police) sources of information about the situation at the Gulberg Society from early that morning.
    Others who refused to tell lies have been punished, most notably two senior IPS officers of the Gujarat cadre, IG Police Satish Verma and DIG Rajnish Rai, had the courage to testify against Modi. Verma had a punishment posting as Chief Vigilance Officer in the Electric Power Corporation Ltd, Shillong and Rai as CVO in the Uranium Corporation at Jadugud.
    It’s a brave and foolhardy Officer who does not bend backwards for their masters from the RSS.
    Today it’s not even the fear of a transfer, if a senior RSS politician feels threatened by a officer, it could mean a prison term and dismissal from the IPS.

  5. Good writeup. Mr. Shukla you deserve credit for rising above your Indian National Congress origins, obtaining a decent education, learning english, working as a somewhat competent soldier, and later, providing India a relatively OK journalist.

  6. Dear Akash are you serious with your patronising sanctimonious bullshit.
    Mr Shukla is an excellent journalist and he has not taught himself English, he is from a English speaking family and was sent to one of India’s finest boarding schools.
    Now if you said he has taught himself Sanskrit, I will consider this praise, this Shukla has made no effort to learn English, expect when he was in his nappy listening to the voices speaking English at home.
    Mr Akash I presume you are a Bhakt, to be fair, if you had the same privilege and education as Mr Shukla you would not be putting your hopes on Modi.


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