Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who left for treatment to a US hospital from Mumbai in the wee hours of Wednesday, is reportedly suffering from an advanced stage of pancreatic cancer.
Sources in Mumbai's Lilavati Hospital and outside, and Goa Medical College and Hospital -- both health facilities in which the former Defence Minister was admitted since February 15 -- have confirmed the cancer.
"It's at quite an advanced stage", said a source who declined to be identified, adding that there was "probable metastasis".
On February 18, some media reports had mentioned that the chief minister was suffering from advanced stage IV of pancreatic cancer. The hospital had denied this.
Lilavati Hospital had said in a statement: "It has been brought to our notice, various malicious and misleading reports/rumours are floating around in the electronic/print media with regards to the health of the Chief Minister of Goa. We categorically deny all such rumours. We reiterate that Chief Minister of Goa is being treated and is responding well to the treatment."
Parrikar was discharged from Lilavati Hospital late on Tuesday and he is currently en route to the US for further treatment, details of which are not available.
"He is diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer of the pancreas... He has already been administered one round of chemotherapy when he was admitted to Lilavati Hospital," sources at the Goa hospital said.
Parrikar had complained of stomach pains on February 14 and was rushed to the GMCH and later flown to Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai the following day, which was then attributed to "food-poisoning".
Soon after he was admitted to the Mumbai hospital, the Goa Chief Minister's Office steadfastly maintained that Parrikar was suffering from "mild pancreatitis" and he was expected to be discharged shortly.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took time off to call on Parrikar in the hospital late on February 18, when he was in the city on a daylong visit, and earlier, the Union Home Minister and others had enquired after the Chief Minister's health and wished him speedy recovery.
Sighs of relief were heaved when Parrikar returned to Goa on February 22 to deliver a truncated annual budget speech, but alarms bells sounded when he was again hospitalised on February 25 at the GMCH after officials claimed he suffered a bout of "dehydration" and "blood pressure".
When the state Bharatiya Janata Party general secretary Sadanand Shet Tanavade was specifically asked on March 4 if the Chief Minister was suffering from cancer, he said: "...we cannot indulge in detailed speculation. It is not right. It is not done to ask about personal life, is a wrong thing."
The BJP state cadre has been organising "Mahamrutyunjay Japs" (death defying-chants) functions and prayer services in Goa's temples and churches, respectively, for the last couple of weeks, which may indicate the severity of the affliction suffered by Parrikar.
The main opposition party in Goa, the Congress, has demanded that Parrikar should come clean with the nature of his illness, because he is a public person elected by the people of Goa.
"We have sympathies for Parrikar, but the Chief Minister should be transparent about his illness. He should be true to the people of Goa who have elected him," state Congress president Shantaram Naik said.
The Chief Minister was discharged on March 1 and was recuperating at home, until he flew to the US on Wednesday morning, after being examined at the Lilavati Hospital.