Udayavni Special

BJP’s Pramod Sawant sworn in Goa CM, allies extract pound of flesh


Team Udayavani, Mar 19, 2019, 2:11 AM IST

Panaji: BJP’s Pramod Sawant was Tuesday sworn in as the new chief minister of Goa, succeeding Manohar Parrikar, cremated hours earlier with state honours.

At a much-delayed swearing-in ceremony, held around 2 am Tuesday, 11 other MLAs, part of the Parrikar-led cabinet, were also sworn in as ministers.

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

Sawant, 46, was Speaker of Goa Legislative Assembly.

As per the power-sharing arrangement reached with allies, an MLA each from MGP and GFP, two small parties backing BJP in the coastal state would be made deputy CMs.

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

Talking to reporters, Sawant credited Parrikar, who died Sunday after battling pancreatic cancer, for bringing him into politics.

After a stalemate following a series of meetings with the allies, the BJP managed to break the deadlock, offering them their pound of flesh, by accepting the key demand for deputy CM’s posts.

There was no such arrangement (Dy CM post) in place when Parrikar was the CM.

“We managed to convince the alliance partners and finalised the formula of two deputy chief ministers for the state,” a senior BJP functionary said.

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 cobbling up the requisite numbers to stake claim to form government.

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 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.

“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.

BJP president Amit Shah, some Union ministers and chief ministers of BJP-ruled states attended the funeral at Miramar.

Parrikar’s eldest son Utpal lit the funeral pyre.

The funeral procession started from the Kala Academy where thousands, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, paid their last respects to the former defence minister.

The mortal remains of the 63-year-old senior BJP leader were kept in a flower-decked hearse which left for the Miramar beach, where the last rites were performed.

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.

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