|Goa CM Manohar Parrikar at his residence in Goa last fortnigh|
Sources on Thursday said Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has agreed to shift to New Delhi to join as India’s next Defence Minister in the next Cabinet reshuffle, likely to be formalised on Sunday.
Meanwhile, in another indication of an imminent Cabinet expansion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met President Pranab Mukherjee at the Rashtrapati Bhawan on Thursday morning. BJP patriarch LK Advani accompanied Modi in his meeting with the President.
On Wednesday evening, Parrikar had met Modi at his 7 Race Course Road residence, which possibly sealed the Defence Ministry offer.
Earlier, at an India Today interview at his official residence ‘Mahalakshmi’ in Panjim on October 25, Parrikar, 58, denied a Union Cabinet berth was in the offing. “Modi has never told me,” he said vehemently. “Only if Modi tells me will I think about it. I have not applied my mind based on some rumour,” he said. “I will cross that bridge when it comes.”
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Parrikar’s meeting with Modi possibly sealed the offer, though he later told media it was to discuss “requirements related to Goa”.
Rumours of Parrikar’s induction into the Cabinet, which the CM attributes to a ‘senior BJP leader’, had been doing the rounds at least since the Cabinet formation. On May 27, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who also currently holds the Defence portfolio, told media that ‘a full time defence minister would be appointed in a couple of weeks’.
An IIT-Bombay alum, Parrikar is currently serving his second term as Goa chief minister. A former RSS pracharak, Parrikar is also considered to be close to Modi.
Meanwhile, Goa Deputy Chief Minister Francis D’Souza and state Health Minister Laxmikant Parsekar are being considered the frontrunners as Parrikar’s replacement as state chief minister.