Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar evades questions on return to state politics

Manohar Parrikar disappointed as poll panel published notice on website without sending it to him first.

Panaji, Jan 13: A day after Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said a central leader could be brought back to Goa and appointed Chief Minister if the BJP wins the upcoming state assembly elections, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday dodged questions on the subject.

A former Goa Chief Minister, Parrikar — when asked if he was likely to return to state politics — said the bridge would be crossed when the time comes.

“I can only say that let us cross the bridge when it comes. Gadkariji said what we (the party) wanted to say,” Parrikar said here.

Ever since he was elevated to the Union cabinet as Defence Minister in 2014, the Opposition has accused Parrikar of spending more time in Goa — indulging in state politics — than in Delhi executing his duties as Defence Minister. The Opposition has also dubbed Parrikar as “Super Chief Minister”.

On Thursday, Gadkari, in presence of Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, had said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah had cleared a proposal to appoint a central leader as a non-MLA Chief Minister, if need be, once the February 4 elections are held.

“After the elections, the elected MLAs will elect a new leader and our party has a parliamentary board. A new leader will be elected in a democratic manner. The new leader could be selected from the current lot of MLAs or the party will bring in another leader from Delhi with the agreement of party leaders,” Gadkari had said.

Two BJP leaders from Goa are part of the National Democratic Alliance cabinet, namely Parrikar and Union Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik.

The Opposition has said that Gadkari’s statement was an indication of the BJP getting jittery ahead of elections.

“(The) BJP (is) nervous with Elvis’s (AAP’s CM candidate Elvis Gomes) candidature. Parsekar (is) no comparison. (The) BJP (is) forced to remove Parsekar. Big victory for Goans against corrupt politics,” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said in his tweet.