Panaji, Mar 9: For BJP leader Manohar Parrikar, who was sworn in as Goa chief minister today, the third stint in the top post comes with no coalition strings attached following the party's emphatic mandate in the assembly polls last week.
The first IITian to become Chief Minister, Parrikar's two previous terms—October 2000-02 and February 2002-05 -- had been bumpy rides with constant pinpricks from his alliance partners.
This time, BJP enjoys a simple majority -- 21 in the 40-member assembly and also has a buffer of three MLAs of ally Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and two Independents. Goans know the 56-year-old leader for his simplicity, clean image, development initiative and his new accommodating and people-friendly side.
Parrikar shot into prominence with the no-holds-barred campaign against the Congress-led government on the issue of illegal mining in the state and emerged as the rallying-point for anti-Congress sentiment.
In his own Panaji assembly constituency, he is considered as a tough man to beat with his development-oriented image, a sharp contrast to his rivals.
Residents of Panaji know Parrikar as a guy next door who will not hesitate to come over for a cup of tea and talk, a trait that makes it easier for him to have his finger on the pulse of the people.
A IIT, Mumbai, graduate in metallurgical engineering and among the first members of BJP in the state, Parrikar has been instrumental in raising the profile of his party from just four members in the state assembly in 1994 to its present status as a ruling party with the highest number of seats in the state assembly.
Parrikar got the first taste of power in the state when he was elected the Chief Minister after BJP withdrew support to Chief Minister Francisco Sardinha's government in October 2000.
Parrikar then cobbled up the numbers as BJP had only 10 members in the 40-member House and took oath as Chief Minister on October 24. It was not a smooth run for him and fed up with the tall demands of his supporters, the BJP leader dissolved the assembly and called for elections in 2002.
He returned to power with a slightly increased mandate but still four short of majority and formed the government with the backing of United Goans Democratic Party, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and an Indpendent MLA.
The government functioned under the shadow of uncertainty but Parrikar earned praise for good administration, improving infrastructure and bringing the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) to Goa, its new permanent venue.
It was during this stint that his slightly arrogant self came to the fore which earned him the wrath of his colleagues. Politically, his move to turn public holidays on Good Friday and Feast of St Xavier into restricted holidays earned him the ire of minorities.
In March 2005, the wobbly government collapsed and the state was put under President's Rule.
After his earlier misadventures, Parrikar tried to mend fences with Christians in the state by refraining from raking up emotive issues and fielding six candidates from the community in this year's assembly elections.
It brought instant success as all the six candidates won. In the run-up to the elections, Parrikar was BJP's most visible face who, as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, brought to fore the issue of illegal mining in the state.
Speaker Pratapsinh Rane had disallowed him from tabling the PAC report in the assembly, which later turned out to be a major poll issue.
Born on December 13, 1955, in Mapusa, Parrikar graduated in 1978 and was awarded by his alma mater with the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2001.
Parrikar's ‘rancid pickle' comment about BJP veteran L K Advani had earned him the ire of the party's central leadership which was reportedly considering him as a possible candidate for the organization's top post. A father of two sons, Parrikar is a widower.