- Manohar Parrikar died at his son's home in Panaji at the age of 63
- The four-time Goa chief minister had been battling pancreatic cancer
- His health had been fluctuating for several days and worsened Saturday
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and top political leaders from across the country today paid their last respects to Manohar Parrikar -- Goa Chief Minister and former Defence Minister -- who died last evening after a year-long battle with pancreatic cancer. Mr Parrikar is being given a state funeral with full military honours. His last rites will be performed shortly at Miramar Beach.
Thousands have turned up for the funeral procession -- a testimony to the popularity of the late Chief Minister.
Mr Parrikar died at his son's home on Sunday evening. He was 63. The announcement was made in a tweet by President Ram Nath Kovind, condolence messages poured in from political leaders across the board.
This afternoon, PM Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman flew down to Panjim to pay their last respects to Mr Parrikar and interact with his family.
The central government has announced a day's national mourning today, during which all schools and colleges in Goa would be shut.
Mr Parrikar's health had been fluctuating for several days and worsened on Saturday morning. The former Defence Minister had been in and out of hospital in Goa, Mumbai, Delhi and New York since February last year. Last month, he was admitted in the Goa Medical College and Hospital near Panaji.
In January, the four-time chief minister had said he would "serve Goa till my last breath". His partymen acknowledged him as their leader in face of Congress attempts to dislodge the government and accusations that the party has fallen below halfway mark in the state assembly.
Over the recent months, Manohar Parrikar had made public appearances with a tube in his nose, looking frail. He had turned up at the state assembly to present the budget, triggering Congress allegations that the BJP was parading him around despite his condition to save its government in the state.
After his death was announced on Sunday, political leaders from across party lines expressed their grief.
"Goa BJP government was formed because of him. He also became defence minister. Again on party's request, he became the Goa Chief Minister," said Union minister Nitin Gadkari, Manohar Parrikar's long-time friend and party colleague.
BJP chief Amit Shah tweeted:
Manohar Parrikar ji's demise is extremely painful. In him, the nation has lost a true patriot who selflessely dedicated his entire life to the country and ideology. Parrikar ji's commitment towards his people and duties was exemplary.- Chowkidar Amit Shah (@AmitShah) March 17, 2019
"I am deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Goa CM, Shri Manohar Parrikar Ji, who bravely battled a debilitating illness for over a year. Respected and admired across party lines, he was one of Goa's favourite sons. My condolences to his family in this time of grief," Congress chief Rahul Gandhi tweeted.
His party, however, once again staked claim to form the government in the state, saying that the BJP was in minority. The BJP-led coalition, that met held a meeting through the night, could not reach a consensus over the next Chief Minister.
Meanwhile, the BJP called a meeting late on Sunday to find his successor, news agency PTI reported. Union Minister Nitin Gadkari reached the state after midnight to hold talks with allies too. BJP legislator and the Deputy Speaker of the state assembly, Michael Lobo said Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) legislator Sudin Dhavalikar wanted to be the chief minister due to which the discussions came to a halt.
"Sudin Dhavalikar wants himself to be the CM, while the BJP wants that the leader of the alliance should be from their camp. We could not reach to any decision," Mr Lobo told reporters outside a hotel after the night-long meeting.
(With inputs from PTI)
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