Goa gets a new CM; Pramod Sawant takes oath

PTI

Panaji: Goa Governor Mridula Sinha (R) administers the oath of the office to Pramod Sawant as the new Chief Minister of the state, at the Raj Bhavan in Panaji, Goa,Tuesday, March 19, 2019.  (PTI Photo)

Panaji: Goa Governor Mridula Sinha (R) administers the oath of the office to Pramod Sawant as the new Chief Minister of the state, at the Raj Bhavan in Panaji, Goa, Tuesday, March 19, 2019. (PTI Photo)

As per the power-sharing arrangement reached with allies, an MLA each from two small parties backing the BJP in the coastal state will be made deputy chief minister, party sources said.

They are Goa Forward Party chief Vijai Sardesai and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party MLA Sudin Dhavalikar.

Senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari, the party’s Goa in-charge, was present at the oath-taking ceremony.

The new government was sworn-in with the support of 20 MLAs, including 11 from the BJP and three each from GFP, MGP and Independents.

All the MLAs supporting the coalition were present at the swearing-in ceremony.

Before taking oath as the CM, Sawant resigned from the post of Speaker of Goa Legislative Assembly.

Deputy Speaker Michael Lobo would be officiating as Speaker till election for the post was held.

Goa witnessed hectic political activity after Parrikar died Sunday, following a year-long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Gadkari, who began a series of meetings with BJP’s coalition partners since Sunday, finally managed to have a consensus over the leadership of Sawant.

Sawant will now have to prove his majority in the Assembly.

The oath ceremony, held at a cramped Raj Bhavan, was to take place at 11 pm Monday but was delayed due to inexplicable reasons.

Sawant said his party BJP has given him a big responsibility.

Talking to reporters, Sawant credited Parrikar for bringing him into politics.

There were 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.

Union minister Nitin Gadkari had flown into the state early Monday to lead the discussions. BJP chief Shah, who was also in Goa, is learnt to have supervised the party’s bid to garner the numbers to stake claim to form a government.

Parrikar was heading a coalition government comprising the BJP, three MLAs each of the Goa Forward Party (GFP), the MGP and three independents.

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 met Governor Mridula Sinha on Monday and staked claim to form a 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.

“We are saddened by the chief minister’s demise, but before his final rites are performed, a new government has to be formed…The governor acknowledged that the Congress is the single largest party and she said she will get back to us,” Kavlekar told reporters.

Parrikar was cremated with state honours here Monday, with thousands bidding the affable politician a fond farewell.

The affection and popularity Parrikar enjoyed among ordinary Goans was on display as hundreds of common folks, and his party workers lined up to pay tributes to the chief minister, who died on Sunday after prolonged illness.

(PTI)