Amid speculation over his appointment as Defence Minister, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar arrived here today from New Delhi but evaded questions on the issue, saying he will comment only after an “official announcement” is made.
Parrikar has called a meeting of BJP MLAs and office bearers late in the evening, apparently to deliberate on his possible successor.
“I will comment only after some official announcement is made. Let the announcement come. That time I will reply to you,” Parrikar told reporters outside Dabolim airport on his return from the national capital.
Parrikar had yesterday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah amid reports of expansion and reshuffle of the Union Cabinet in which he could get the Defence portfolio.
Party officials confirmed that the name of Parrikar’s successor would be discussed in the meeting, but a formal announcement would be made only after the Centre confirms his induction as defence minister.
Names of state Health Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and Goa Assembly Speaker Rajendra Arlekar, both former state BJP unit chiefs with RSS background, are doing the rounds for the top post.
Both the leaders told PTI they will accept the responsibility, if it is given to them.
“I will go by what the party decides. I am not in the race. There is no race for the post. It would be the decision of the party,” Parsekar said.
On his part, Arlekar said nothing has yet been communicated to him about his possible elevation.
“Nothing has been communicated to me. But, if the party gives me any responsibility, I will handle it to the best of my ability,” said Arlekar, an MLA from Pernem.
The new Chief Minister will have the tough task of reviving the state’s economy which is going through a difficult phase due to closure of the mining industry.
The Parrikar government is in the process of resuming mining following a Supreme Court order.
“The choice of the Chief Minister is very crucial. He has to match the calibre of Parrikar. People will soon start comparing the new CM with Parrikar and, if he fails, it could affect the party’s future prospects,” a senior party leader said requesting anonymity.