Panaji: The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Pramod Sawant on Tuesday took oath as the chief minister of Goa in a ceremony held at 2am, as the saffron party managed to keep its allies together after hectic negotiations all through the day.
The 45-year-old takes over from former defence minister and four-time CM of Goa Manohar Parrikar, who was cremated at the Miramar beach on Monday.
The crucial transition of power in the coastal state necessitated by Parrikar’s death on Sunday capped frenzied political developments, with the Congress too staking claim to power.
Sawant’s swearing-in ceremony was initially scheduled to be held at 11pm on Monday but it was pushed back, with the allies seeking to extract their pound of flesh.
The new government has two deputy chief ministers, Goa Forward Party chief Vijai Sardesai and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party MLA Sudin Dhavalikar, from the two small parties backing BJP in the coastal state.
Apart from the CM and his two deputies, nine other ministers of the state cabinet were also sworn in at the late-night ceremony.
The nine other ministers are Manohar Azgaonkar, Rohan Khaunte, Govind Gaude, Vinod Palienkar, Jayesh Salgaonkar, Mauvin Godinho, Vishwajit Rane, Milind Naik and Nilesh Cabral.
Michael Lobo, currently the deputy speaker, will be speaker till a new one is elected.
Sawant, along with union minister Nitin Gadkari, went to stake claim to form the government after midnight as power-sharing talks with the alliance partners continued till late.
The new CM said the party had given him a huge responsibility, and gave credit to Parrikar for his rise. “Whatever I am today is all due to Manohar Parrikar. It was he who brought me to politics. I became the Speaker and the CM today, due to him,” he said after meeting the Governor.
Sawant was elected leader of the BJP legislature party at a meeting held in the state capital minutes after Parrikar was given a state funeral with full military honours.
BJP chief Amit Shah and Gadkari met the legislators before the formal resolution was passed.
The Goa Congress slammed Governor Mridula Sinha for giving the BJP a chance to form the government, and called her an “agent of the BJP”.
”We’re strongly condemning undemocratic action of Goa Governor Mridula Sinha for not allowing our single largest party to form the govt and allowing BJP to carry on horse trading despite BJP not having sufficient numbers to form the govt,” Congress’s Sunil Kawthankar said.
Kawthankar said the day will be remembered as “darkest day in Indian democracy.” “The state is without legitimate government despite Congress party being the single largest and staking its claim,” he added.
There had been a series of meetings involving the Goa Forward Party and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party’s three MLAs each, an equal number of Independents, and BJP legislators since late Sunday night to reach a consensus on Parrikar’s successor.
Gadkari had flown into the state early Monday to lead the discussion.
Parrikar was heading a coalition government comprising the BJP, three MLAs each of the Goa Forward Party (GFP), the MGP and three independents.
The Congress is currently the single largest party in the state with 14 MLAs. The BJP has 12 legislators in the 40-member Assembly, whose strength now is 36 after Parrikar’s death.
The strength of the House has reduced due to demise of BJP MLA Francis D’Souza earlier this year, and Parrikar on Sunday, and resignations of two Congress MLAs Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanand Sopte last year.
All the state Congress MLAs had also met Governor Mridula Sinha on Monday and staked claim to form government in the coastal state.
The MLAs, led by Leader of the Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar, went to Raj Bhawan and handed over a letter to Sinha, saying it was the single largest party in the Assembly and should be allowed to form the government.
BJP’s Pramod Sawant Takes Oath as Goa Chief Minister at 2am Ceremony, 11 Ministers Are Also Sworn in – News18