Pramod Sawant: The Ayurveda doctor and quintessential RSS man
As Pramod Sawant starts his second term as CM, he has turned a new page in Goa's political history, bringing the BJP out of Manohar Parrikar's shadow
As Pramod Sawant starts his second term as Goa Chief Minister, he has turned a new leaf in the state’s political history by leading the BJP to a victory in the Assembly polls, a development that shows the party has come out of the shadow of its tall leader late Manohar Parrikar.
Sawant (48), an Ayurveda medical practitioner and three-time MLA from Sankhalim in North Goa, who considered Parrikar as his mentor, was on Monday sworn in as the CM for a second term.
The BJP, in power in Goa since 2012, is now in its third straight term in office.
The saffron party under Sawant overcame anti-incumbency and resignations by some key figures, including Parrikar’s son, over ticket allocation, and put up its second best performance ever in the recently concluded state polls – winning 20 seats in the 40-member Assembly in multi-cornered fights.
Sawant, a mild-mannered politician, who took over as chief minister for the first time in March 2019, brought the BJP tantalisingly close to the simple majority mark of 21, defying pre-poll predictions of a hung Assembly. He has now been rewarded with a second term in office by the BJP leadership with support for his incoming government coming from two MLAs of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), the coastal state’s oldest regional outfit, and three Independent legislators.
The BJP’s best performance till date had been 21 seats won by it in 2012 when Parrikar dominated Goa’s political scene. Sawnt was elected Speaker of the Legislative Assembly when the BJP formed its government under the leadership of Parrikar in 2017. He was sworn in as the CM for the first time in March 2019 after the death of Parrikar.
Sawant is considered close to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and was pictured participating in an RSS event during his first term as the CM. He was at the helm when the coastal state faced the COVID pandemic along with other parts of the country.
Sawant’s electoral career began in 2008 when he was fielded from the Sankhalim (then Pale) Assembly segment by the BJP, but lost to Congress candidate Pratap Gauns. However, he managed to win the seat in 2012 when the BJP contested the elections under the leadership of Parrikar. That was the only time when the BJP won a majority on its own in the Assembly.
He got re-elected in 2017 from Sankhalim and went on to become the Assembly Speaker before being chosen by the BJP, at the age of 46, to succeed Parrikar as the CM.
In the Assembly polls held last month, Sawant was elected with a margin of 666 votes against his nearest rival Dharmesh Saglani of the Congress. His wife Sulakshana Sawant is also an active BJP worker and associated with the party’s womens wing in Goa.
With inputs from agencies