Ex-Indian defence minister Parrikar dies at 63

India’s former defence minister and four-time Goa chief minister, Manohar Parrikar, above, died after a yearlong battle with cancer at his Panaji home surrounded by his family on Sunday evening. He was 63.

Parrikar was suffering from advanced pancreatic cancer.

President Ram Nath Kovind expressed his sorrow over the passing of Parrikar “after an illness borne with fortitude and dignity.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi described Parrikar as an unparalleled leader, true patriot and an exceptional administrator admired by all. His impeccable service to the nation will be remembered by generations, Modi added.

Parrikar will be given a state funeral on Tuesday. The funeral procession will start at 4 pm and the final rites will begin at 5pm.   

Parrikar’s death comes when the opposition Congress party’s Goa unit is making renewed efforts to stake claim to form the government.

Congress claims the BJP government in Goa had lost its majority after BJP legislator Francis D ‘Souza passed away last month.

The future of the BJP government looks shaky after Parrikar’s death. The party held a long meeting late on Sunday.

Parrikar made a name for himself in October 2000 when he became the first chief minister of Goa from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Becoming the BJP chief minister of Goa four times was no small achievement for a Hindu like Parikar as the state was a stronghold of Congress party backed by its 26% Christian population.

His electoral debut for the North Goa parliamentary seat in 1991 was not promising. He lost to Congress candidate Harish Zantye by 88,139 votes.

He won his first election in 1994 as the BJP’s candidate for the Panaji assembly seat.

Parrikar was among the earliest supporters of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.

In 2014, Modi made him the federal defence minister after the BJP swept elections in 2014.