Several ministers, including those from the BJP, in Goa did not attend the swearing-in ceremony of Dipak Pawaskar, who was inducted into the state cabinet within hours of quitting the MGP and joining the saffron party on Wednesday.
Pawaskar and another Maharahstrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) MLA, Manohar Ajgaonkar, quit the regional party and joined the BJP in the early hours of Wednesday. Goa Governor Mridula Sinha administered the oath of office and secrecy to Pawaskar at a ceremony held at the Raj Bhavan here around 11.35 pm.
Pawaskar was sworn-in after Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, who was present at the Raj Bhawan function, dropped Deputy Chief Minister and lone MGP MLA Sudin Dhavalikar from the Cabinet earlier in the day. Except for ministers Nilesh Cabral, Govind Gawade and Ajgaonkar, nobody else from the Goa Cabinet was present at the swearing-in ceremony of Pawaskar.
Gawade an Independent legislator is culture minister, while BJP leader Cabral holds the law portfolio. Ajgaonkar is tourism minister in the Goa government. Legislators and members of BJP ally Goa Forward Party, two other Independent MLAs, who support the Sawant government, and a majority of BJP ministers did not attend the ceremony.
Pawaskar and Ajgaonkar after splitting from the MGP, formed their own legislature wing and merged it with the BJP. Dhavalikar’s portfolios of transport and public works will now be looked after by Chief Minister Sawant.
Earlier Wednesday, Goa Forward Party (GFP) President and Deputy Chief Minister Vijai Sardesai had demanded that the chief minister should specify the future political road map of the current government. If this (defection from coalition partners) continues, then we will lose sympathy and it will create suspicion among coalition partners. Such incidents in future will result in lack of public goodwill Sardesai said.
Putting the ball in Sawant’s court, Sardesai said, “The CM heads this (government) and he knows the contours of his alliance. I think he will very soon clarify on the future political road map of this coalition government. He said he had conveyed his concern to the chief minister as well as the BJP’s state leadership following Wednesday’s developments.
Sardesai has command over a group of six MLAs, including three from his own party and three Independents. The support of these legislators is crucial to the BJP. Following the joining of the two MGP MLAs, the BJP now has 14 members in the 40-member Goa assembly. The saffron party along with three GFP MLAs and the three Independents is part of the treasury bench.
The opposition has 15 members, 14 from the Congress and one from the NCP, in the House. Pawaskar, a first-time MLA from the Sanvordem assembly constituency in South Goa, is currently Chairman of state-run Goa State Infrastructure Development Corporation.