Parrikar denies quitting Centre over Kashmir, Opposition calls him 'bhagoda'

Panaji: Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Saturday denied media reports that he quit as Defence Minister due to "pressure" over the Kashmir issue, but Opposition parties lashed out at the BJP leader, accusing him of being "anti-national" and a "bhagoda" (deserter).

All India Congress Committee Secretary Girish Chodankar said the only thing Parrikar had learnt from Pakistan, during his stint as Defence Minister, was staging coups, referring to the 'coup' staged by the BJP, which upstaged the Congress to come to power in Goa last month.

"The Congress believes that securing the borders of the country are more important that becoming Chief Minister of Goa. Parrikar's return to Goa is an 'anti-national' act. He has clearly run away from the Defence Ministry. In fact, Parrikar was the worst Defence Minister India has ever had," Chodankar told reporters at a press conference in Panaji at the party's state headquarters.

"The only thing Parrikar has learnt from Pakistan as Defence Minister is how to stage coups, which are popular in Pakistan, where the army dethrones popularly elected governments. No wonder Parrikar staged a coup in Goa, where he led the BJP to power using unfair means," Chodankar said.

Reports in a section of the media on Friday quoted Parrikar as saying that he had quit his sensitive central ministry brief because of pressures generated by the Kashmir crisis, among other issues.

Parrikar on Saturday took to Twitter to post a clarification, saying the news report was "factually incorrect".

The BJP media cell in Goa said the Chief Minister had been misquoted. 

"This is to clarify that Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has never given any such statement that he had pressure of any sort working as Defence Minister," a statement issued by the Goa BJP media cell stated, adding that the senior BJP leader was "willing to take on any challenge in Goa and also at the national level".

The Aam Aadmi Party in a statement issued here called Parrikar a "self-admitted bhagoda".

"Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar's claim in public that it was the pressure of running the Defence Ministry, in particular the vexed Kashmir issue, that got to him and facilitated his grabbing the opportunity to return to Goa politics is a self-admission that he is a bhagoda," the AAP said in a statement.