The BJP politician studied in the Catholic state schools. Card. Gracias: “We can sincerely say that Goa and India have lost a great leader and that the Christian community has lost a sincere and honest friend”. His death reopens political dispute with the Congress.
New Delhi (AsiaNews) – Thousands of Indian citizens are paying tribute to Manohar Parrikar, Chief Minister of Goa who died yesterday at the age of 63, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was loved by the population and highly esteemed by the authorities of the Church. His sudden death leaves a profound void in the politics of the Indian state, which in the coming weeks will vote in general elections.
A reserved character and reluctant to bitter political contests, he managed to bridge the gap between his Hindu nationalist party Bjp (Bharatiya Janata Party) and the local Catholic Church, from which he gained great respect in 2012 when he opposed the decision to eliminate the Good Friday celebrations.
For this, Card. Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Indian Bishops’ Conference (CBCI), and Msgr. Filipe Neri Ferrao, Archbishop of Goa and Daman, entrust their condolences to two official communiques. Card Gracias, who calls himself a “sincere friend” of Parrikar, says: “We pay tribute to his courage and determination”. “We are proud – he adds – that as a child he studied at a Catholic school, Loyola High School in Margaro. We are happy that the Catholic Church has been instrumental in the formation of such an illustrious, committed and devoted leader.”
The president of the Indian Catholic bishops expresses his gratitude on behalf of the whole Church “for the collaboration and support that the Hon. Parrikar has always offered to the Church and for his sensitivity to the needs of the Christian community. In 2012 he was honest in admitting that the decision to cancel the Good Friday festivity in Goa was an error, respected the sentiments of the Christian Community, restored the holiday and never looked back.”
Likewise, in 2014, the former chief minister, then the defense minister of the Indian Union, opposed the government’s decision to celebrate Good Governance Day on December 25, the day when Christians celebrate Christmas. “We can sincerely say – says Card. Gracias – that Goa and India have lost a great leader and that the Christian community has lost a sincere and honest friend.”
The archbishop of Goa also states that ” Shri Parrikar’s passing away is a great loss to the people of Goa. As the Chief Minister of Goa, he showed great acumen in the political administration of the State and was always considerate towards the developmental needs of the people of this land. …His sense of secularism and communal harmony and respect for the various religions, cultures and traditions of the people have been generally appreciated by the population of the State, as was his judiciousness in settling issues and finding lasting solutions for the welfare of the masses. His far sight led him to plan for the near and distant future.”
Elected in the administrative round of 2016 among the BJP, his death opens a new political clash with the Congress. In fact, in those elections the Gandhi family party had won in terms of seats gained (17 out of 40). But then the BJP had succeeded in building an alliance with the regional parties, thus obtaining the administration of the State. Parrikar’s death caused the dispute to resurface, with Rahul Gandhi who, along with his condolences, recalled that the Congress is still the first party in Goa and should have the lead.
(Nirmala Carvalho collaborated)