Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has his own way of dealing with India’s neighbourhood. Not for him the hemming and hawing of foreign policy wonks. Ask him a question and he will give you a uniquely Parrikar take on the issue. Terror? Simple, fight it with more terror. Pakistan? He can’t help it if his terror remarks sting worse than Andhra chillies.
China? It’s plain to see that “made in China” Ganeshas have “smaller” eyes. Make in
India, therefore, if you want your gods to stay Indian. Nothing like a little casual racism, apparently, to settle a 50-year-old border dispute and tilt the trade deficit in India’s favour. Population control? Just drop an atom bomb. So no one can complain about defence spending now.
Perhaps Parrikar feels impelled to make a splash at a time when most of the BJP’s central leadership has paled next to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s impressive persona. If Modi could meet US President Barack Obama in a suit embroidered with his own name, Parrikar must have felt pressured to flex a muscle or two before going in to sign agreements with US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter. Certainly, he has travelled a long way from the leader who was part of the BJP’s phalanx of showpiece chief ministers. As Goa’s first BJP CM, Parrikar was projected as a liberal face of the party. He was the secular politician who could draw in the state’s minorities and the dynamic leader who could push the growth agenda. In retrospect, though, signs of his unique verbal flair were visible early on, as, for instance, in 2009 when he called veteran BJP leader L.K. Advani an “old rancid pickle”.
In Delhi, the statesmanly CM has seemed to give way to the party hardliner. As he goes into the public arena all guns blazing, he seems to have decided offence is the best form of defence.