Parrikar’s surprise return to Goa

Parrikar, 62, arrived at 2.35pm in a special flight from New Delhi, where he had been undergoing treatment for a pancreatic ailment at the AIIMS, and was driven home in a navy ambulance

By PTI in Panaji
  • Published 15.10.18, 3:06 AM
  • Updated 15.10.18, 3:06 AM
  • 2 mins read
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Manohar Parrikar File picture

Ailing chief minister Manohar Parrikar made a surprise return to Goa on Sunday, a day after the Congress alleged he was not being removed despite months of indisposition out of fear he might spill the beans on the Rafale deal.

Parrikar, 62, arrived at 2.35pm in a special flight from New Delhi, where he had been undergoing treatment for a pancreatic ailment at the AIIMS, and was driven home in a navy ambulance.

On Saturday, the Congress had alleged a paralysis of governance in Goa since Parrikar fell ill in February and was hospitalised in Mumbai, the US and New Delhi. It suggested he was not being replaced because he was the defence minister when the Rafale deal was signed and would “reveal all if the BJP removes him”.

Sources in the AIIMS said Parrikar had been shifted to the intensive care unit on Sunday morning after his condition deteriorated — but shortly afterwards, the administration decided to discharge him.

“I got the news that he is coming back but I can’t believe that he is returning. His health is improving but he was expected to stay at the AIIMS for a few more days,” Union minister Shripad Naik told reporters in Panaji.

The state-run Goa Medical College and Hospital has made elaborate arrangements at Parrikar’s private residence, with a team of doctors on standby to attend to him.

Parrikar had made three US trips for treatment since being admitted to Mumbai’s Lilavati hospital in mid-February. He had been at AIIMS, New Delhi, since September 15.

On Friday, he had met Goa BJP leaders and ministers from allied parties at AIIMS to discuss how the government could function normally during his absence — suggesting a quick return was not being contemplated.

Naik said it was all right for Parrikar to undergo treatment in Goa but he needed rest. “There has been an improvement to his health (since) he was flown to AIIMS last month,” the minister for ayush, or alternative and traditional medicine, acknowledged.

The Congress alleges that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had pressured the French to give the Rafale offset contract to Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence, bypassing the public sector HAL, while keeping the defence and foreign ministries in the dark.

Parrikar, defence minister from November 2014 to March 2017, was visiting Goa when Modi announced the Rafale deal in April 2015. Parrikar publicly admitted he was not in the know and that the cabinet committee on security’s approval for the deal had been taken post-facto.

He has not defended the government’s claim of a confidentiality clause on the price of the jets, and all the fire-fighting has been done by current defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Naik dismissed any possibility of the Goa Assembly being dissolved and expressed confidence that the Parrikar-led government would complete its five-year term.