Former Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar is no less than a modern day legend to the people of Goa, a state which witnessed compete turnaround of fortunes under him. However, the great personality never remained confined to only one state or region. He was a kind of person who was loved and respected for both his hardwork and simplicity, across the length and breadth of India.
Baraulia and Haripur, two villages situated in Congress bastion Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, 1,853.0 km away from Goa’s capital Panji, share a very deep and special relation with Parrikar. These two villages were adopted by Manohar Parrikar in 2015 and 2017 respectively.
Soon after, these villages not only got roads, schools, solar lights, skill development camps, but also witnessed beautification of government primary schools and ponds. Parrikar constantly remained in touch with residents of both the villages, inviting many of them to Delhi to discuss how he could help bring big ticket projects there.
And this is the reason for why people of these two villages are now demanding a statue of Parrikar. After his demise, Amethi residents are planning to approach Union minister Smriti Irani and chief minister Yogi Adityanath to construct Parrikar’s statues in both the villages.
“If the statues can come up through government help and funding, it would be nice. Else we will collect funds,” said Surendra Pratap Singh, former gram pradhan (village head) of Baraulia village.
During the 2014 Lok Sabha poll, Parrikar came to campaign in Hariharpur, a village with a mixed population of about 2500, including 115 families of trained RSS workers. “During his visit I had organised an interaction with RSS families, but he remembered me even after that. In fact two years later, he called me to Delhi to discuss various projects for the constituency. This village underwent a turnaround of sorts because of his efforts,” recalls Rama Shankar Shastri, an RSS worker who lives in Hariharpur.
Shastri also wants Parrikar’s statue in his village to ‘cement’ the bond. “I am a low-key worker. I have never met a top politician who could be so down-to-earth, simple and caring. When I went to meet him, he even remembered that my hair had turned more grey since our previous meeting,” he recalled. “Work on a 2.5-kilometer road that the village got through Parrikar’s efforts is in progress here. He also promoted the plantation of medicinal and aromatic plants,” informed Shastri.
A few kilometres away in Baraulia, which Parrikar had adopted on the recommendation of Union minister Smriti Irani, Surendra Pratap Singh, the former gram pradhan (village head) became emotional while talking about the leader. “It’s like losing a family member. We are in mourning,” said Singh in a choked voice over the phone. A community centre, pucca roads, solar lights, toilets were among the several things that were built in the village because of him,” he added.