Months after both the Goa BJP and the state administration refused to disclose Manohar Parrikar's ailment, state Health Minister Vishwajit Rane on Saturday admitted that the Chief Minister was suffering from pancreatic cancer.
The admission came amid relentless demands from the opposition parties to know whether the Chief Minister was fit enough to govern. The state government had hitherto been reluctant to reveal Parrikar's illness.
"He is the CM of Goa and the fact is that he is not well. He has got pancreatic cancer. There is no hiding of this fact," Rane told reporters a day after the Congress gave the Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government four days to prove that Parrikar was of "sound health and mind" and in a position to govern the state.
"Let him be peaceful with his family. That much right he has, after serving the people of Goa, that if he wants to spend some quality time with his family, nobody has the business to ask...," Rane said.
Parrikar, who is currently being treated for advanced pancreatic cancer, has been in and out of hospitals in Goa, Mumbai, New York, and Delhi.
His absence has created a leadership vacuum in Goa, even as the opposition has demanded that he step aside to focus on treatment.
Parrikar has not had a single public appearance since his return from Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences on October 14 and is currently bedridden at his private residence, which party sources said has been converted into a sophisticated medical facility, with doctors and para-medical staff on a 24-hour duty.
Rane also slammed the Congress for playing politics over the ailing Chief Minister's health, saying if the Congress wanted to go to court to learn of Parrikar's health condition, it was free to do so.
State Congress President Girish Chodankar told IANS that the opposition is concerned about whether the Chief Minister is in a condition to take a decision and a public disclosure of Parrikar's ailment by the Health Minister did not address that concern.
"If the Health Minister is making some statement, we should take it as on record. But our issue is not what he is suffering (from) at this stage. What is his health condition? Our issue is whether he is taking the decisions. Whether he is signing the papers," Chodankar said.