On March 19 morning, Goans woke up to a new Chief Minister, Pramod Sawant, who took oath of office just before 2 am. The BJP and its allies finally put a new government in place in the state on wee hours of Tuesday after multiple postponements of the oath ceremony on Monday, a day Swanat’s predecessor Manohar Parrikar was cremated with state honours.
Later in the day, Sawant said a floor test will be held on Wednesday, ANI reported. Deputy Speaker Michael Lobo will preside over the session.
Here is how the late night drama unfolded in Panaji
At 1.48 am, a minute after the national anthem was played at the Raj Bhavan, Pramod Sawant took oath as chief minister of Goa. The 45-year-old MLA from Sanquelim constituency took charge of the office, hours after the final rites of his predecessor, Manohar Parrikar, were conducted with full state honours.
Goa governor Mridula Sinha administered the oath of office and secrecy to the 46-year-old legislator from Sankhalim in North Goa. The Governor also administered oath to 11 other ministers, including those from BJP’s allies MGP and the GFP. Interestingly, all the ministers who were part of erstwhile Manohar Parrikar-led Cabinet were sworn in by the Governor.
MGP’s two MLAs Sudin Dhavalikar and Manohar Ajgaonkar were sworn-in, while Goa Forward party MLAs Vijai Sardesai, Vinod Palekar and Jayesh Salgaonkar also took oath.
BJP MLAs Mauvin Godinho, Vishwajit Rane, Milind Naik and Nilesh Cabral also found a place in the Sawant-led Cabinet.
Independent MLAs Rohan Khaunte and Govind Gawade were also sworn in by Governor.
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.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Sawant on Twitter. “Best wishes to Dr Pramod Sawant and his team as they begin their journey towards fulfilling the dreams of the people of Goa. I am sure they will build on the work done in the last few years and boost Goa’s growth trajectory,” the PM tweeted.
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 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 Bhavan 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.