Over the last two decades, the exploits of one man, an IIT-Bombay alumnus, changed the way mainstream India looked at Goa and the political goings-on in the country’s smallest state.
An Extraordinary Life by Sadguru Patil and Mayabhushan Nagvenkar traces the life and times of Manohar Parrikar through the informed voices of his relatives, friends, foes, bureaucrats and IIT contemporaries. The daily battles of a gifted individual are brought to the fore as he encounters love and vices.
Find an excerpt below that narrates an anecdote from his childhood and family that made for one of the many moments defining Mahor Parrikar’s personality as an individual and politician.
Maths, Masti and Mapusa
Falling into trouble isn’t rare when one is young. But even at the age of eight, Manohar had the temperament to find a way out of it. Avdhoot, his elder brother, had seen Manohar emerge from several sticky situations with little more than some quick thinking. Avdhoot was nine, a year older than Manohar, when the latter fell into a deep, dry rainwater ditch near their ancestral house in Parra village. The gutter was deep enough to make Manohar’s efforts to climb out of it futile. Avdhoot was in a state of panic too. He could not pull Manohar out, because he did not have enough body strength to lift his younger brother up.
Where their collective brawn failed, Manohar thought of a plan.
Like in many rural homes at the time, the Parrikar household also reared a few head of cattle, mostly cows. There was one particular calf whom the Parrikar siblings called Mangala. She was particularly adored by Manohar and Avdhoot. There was also a greedy bull named Diglo who would always try to hog and gorge a major share of the fodder. During dry weather spells, their father, Gopalkrishna, would stock feed, mostly bundles of dry straw, which were stacked together near the house.
‘Manohar told me to fetch at least five bundles of straw. They weren’t too heavy, so I brought them one by one and, on his direction, threw them into the gutter. He piled them one on top of the other and managed to climb out,’ Avdhoot recalled.
The next morning, the telltale signs—dry grass strewn along the gutter bed—were not missed by other members of the family, but they smiled and ignored them.
With time and maturity, Parrikar the politician learnt not to leave behind such telltale signs.
But when he was born at Mapusa’s Dr Olavo Ribeiro Hospital, at 4.04 a.m. on 13 December 1955, Kaiee, the elderly mother of Manohar’s cousin Kashinath, did see signs of greatness, according to Parrikar’s elder sister Lata.
‘Kaiee told my mother that the boy will bring laurels to the Parrikar household,’ she said.
For an infant who would grow up to sting his political opponents with his acerbic wit and sharp intellect, Parrikar was born under the Scorpio star sign, while his nakshatra was Anuradha, symbolized by a blooming lotus. Kaiee, one must say, was not too off her mark, because under Parrikar’s watchful care, the lotus, the symbol of BJP, did eventually bloom in Goa.
The book narrates the daily battles of a gifted individual as he encounters love and vices. But more importantly, it showcases his rise in politics from the son of a grocery store owner in a nondescript town, a sanghachalak in Mapusa town, an Opposition MLA and leader, to a chief minister (on multiple occasions) and, finally, to a defence minister.