He was party spokesperson and Speaker of the state legislative assembly until his elevation to the CM’s post.
Sawant belongs to Cotombi, a village in Bicholim. His saffron leanings from his early days grounded him in the Hindutva ideology. His father, Pandurang Sawant, a former zilla panchayat member, was actively associated with Bharatiya Jana Sangh, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh and was also recognised as BJP’s loyal foot-soldier.
After graduating in Ayurveda medicine, Sawant pursued post-graduation in social work and also studies in ‘medico-legal system’.
Sawant plunged into politics on the insistence of BJP leadership in 2008 after the Sanquelim (now Sakhali) assembly seat fell vacant. Quitting his government job as Ayurveda physician in the north district hospital at Mapusa, Sawant contested the byelection as a BJP candidate, but lost. He, however, triumphed in 2012 assembly polls and in 2017 polls.
After the BJP-led coalition led by Parrikar came to power following the 2017 election, Sawant was elected Speaker, making him the youngest in the post among all state assemblies at the time.
Sawant was in the reckoning for the top post ever since the question of a successor for Parrikar came to the fore following detection of Parrikar’s illness. He had also met RSS sarsanghchalak in October last year to pitch for his candidature for the CM’s post.
Believed to have been groomed into politics by Parrikar himself, Sawant was also the late chief minister’s preferred choice. Sources said his loyalty weighed in his favour as Parrikar’s successor. “Sawant’s loyalty to the party is such that he would always put the party before any personal ambition. Besides BJP’s requirement of a relatively younger candidate to lead the party for the next 10-15 years worked in his favour, Parrikar’s writ that the next CM should be among BJP legislators also prevailed,” a party source said.
Former RSS sanghchalak, Subhash Velingkar, speaking to TOI, said though Sawant had a stint in RSS, he had strong interest in politics and was, therefore, soon inducted into BJP. “He functioned as the ‘boudhik pramukh’ (in charge of ideological orientation programmes) of the RSS of Bicholim taluka. However, he didn’t get to spend much time in RSS activities as he soon plunged into politics,” he said. A state youth awardee for his extraordinary skills in youth movement in Goa, Sawant has been state president of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, and national vice-president of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha.
Parrikar-groomed, RSS man Pramod Sawant set for top job as Goa BJP moves to GenNext – Times of India