When Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in Goa today to pay homage to the departed chief minister and trusted party colleague Manohar Parrikar, his thoughts could possibly have drifted to two events — in April 2002 and June 2013 — that decided Modi's fate and as time would tell, the course of the nation.
On both these occasions, Parrikar was Goa chief minister and warm host to the BJP conclave. On both these occasions, Modi was Gujarat chief minister, but the two situations were very different. In April 2002, the National Executive meet was to decide whether he would continue as chief minister or be asked to resign with the taint of a failed administrator on him. In June 2013, the conclave was to decide whether to catapult Modi to the national scene as the BJP's foremost leader and prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha election. On both these occasions, Parrikar — slightly younger to Modi — was by the side of the latter.
They had developed an unspoken camaraderie and such was Modi's faith in Parrikar as a capable administrator with great personal integrity, that on becoming prime minister, he kept the defence minister's post vacant for over five months. Arun Jaitley was given temporary charge of defence — in addition to the full time finance ministry portfolio. Parrikar was unwilling to move to Delhi, he was repeatedly declining Modi's offer to join the big league.
By the end of October 2014, Modi served an ultimatum to Parrikar asking him to pack his bags within a week and join the Union Cabinet as defence minister. The Cabinet expansion and a reshuffle couldn't wait any longer. This time it was an order from the supreme leader of the party and Parrikar as a disciplined leader of the party had to abide by it. This was the only big decision of the Modi government, of which the media caught wind. Firstpost then broke that story after learning about the news from senior BJP leaders whom Parrikar had told about the whole move and his decision to abide by the diktat.
Both Modi and Parrikar had their moorings in the RSS, albeit in different areas. The onset of Summer 2002 became a defining moment in their relationship. The BJP National Executive was to be held in Goa in April. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, then prime minister, was uneasy over the aftermath of the Godhra riots in Gujarat. A hugely image-conscious Vajpayee was under pressure from allies TDP, LJP and others, a section of party leaders and also from various other groups. The riots had become international news and it was perceived by many that they might take a toll on Vajpayee's image as a statesman.
Parrikar was playing host to the BJP conclave in Goa and as such, he was in contact with the top leaders visiting the state. During the meeting, Modi took the microphone and offered to resign. What followed was unprecedented in the BJP's history. Modi's delegates gathered there shouted, "No, No". LK Advani was backing Modi, but seated on the dais, he kept quiet. When someone suggested that a decision on Modi's fate be taken later, the shouts became even stronger.
Modi survived in Goa to script history, becoming the first BJP leader to win three consecutive Assembly elections.
In June 2013, Parrikar hosted another BJP conclave. The meet was being held to seek National Executive approval to declare Modi as the BJP's prime ministerial candidate. This time around, Advani was not inclined to endorse Modi's elevation. Parrikar played the role of a perfect host and strategist to ensure that the announcement to make Modi the BJP's face in the parliamentary election would go through.
Once again, Modi went on to script history, winning an absolute majority for the BJP in the Lok Sabha, the first such instance for a non-Congress government, becoming the first leader to have full a majority in three decades. Parrikar and Goa had been lucky for him. Parrikar's death will be a personal loss to Modi.
Your guide to the latest election news, analysis, commentary, live updates and schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on firstpost.com/elections. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram or like our Facebook page for updates from all 543 constituencies for the upcoming general elections.
Updated Date: Mar 18, 2019 15:03:17 IST