- Mr Parrikar wore a cap, had assistants for support as he read out speech
- Mr Parrikar who has pancreatic condition, has been unwell for months
- BJP is accused of parading him in this condition to avoid falling of govt
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who has been severely unwell for months and has admitted that he is "battling a life-threatening disease", spoke in a feeble voice today as he presented the Budget in the assembly with a tube in his nose. He made up for his weakened delivery with rousing words: "Present circumstances have prevented me from delivering a detailed Budget speech, but there is a josh that is too high, very high and I am in hosh. Fully in hosh."
It was a dig at the Congress, which had responded to Mr Parrikar's "How's the josh" comment during an event - an ode to a popular dialogue from the blockbuster film "Uri" - by questioning whether he was in his "hosh" or senses.
Mr Parrikar, who is also the state finance minister, wore a cap and had assistants by his side to flip the pages as he read out his speech. He paused for sips of what news agency IANS said was medication. When he rose to present the budget, he was allowed to read out a brief statement from his seat.
The sight of the 63-year-old chief minister, who has a pancreatic condition, presenting the budget, is likely to set off more criticism of the ruling BJP from rivals including the Congress.
A thinner than usual and frail-looking Mr Parrikar has been making public appearances since December, after months of hospital stay and recuperation from surgery.
He was first seen after a long time when he inspected bridge projects on December 17, two doctors by his side.
The Congress has been demanding that Mr Parrikar be replaced and has repeatedly accused the BJP of retaining him against his will and even parading him in his condition to avoid its government falling.
Yesterday, Congress president Rahul Gandhi called on Mr Parrikar on his visit to Goa, setting off speculation about whether the controversy over the Rafale jet deal came up for discussion. Rahul Gandhi later said Mr Parrikar, who was Defence Minister of India till 2017, had told him that he had nothing to do with the new deal for 36 jets signed after the BJP came to power. He did not elaborate whether this was said in yesterday's meeting or earlier.
Mr Parrikar responded with a statement addressed to Rahul Gandhi: "We didn't discuss Rafale, I feel let down that you used visit for petty political gain. Don't use your visit to an ailing person to feed political opportunism."
The Congress claims to have an audio recording of a Goa minister quoting Mr Parrikar as bragging about having Rafale files. The party claims that Mr Parrikar had said no one could remove him as "all the Rafale papers are in my flat, in my bedroom".