Pramod Sawant, Goa Assembly Speaker and BJP leader, was on Tuesday sworn in as the state's new chief minister. Sawant, 45, will succeed Manohar Parrikar, who died on Sunday after battling pancreatic cancer and was cremated with state honours in Panjim Monday evening. He was 63.
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.o
Manohar Ajgaonkar and Sudin Dhawalikar of Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), Vijai Sardesai of Goa Forward party (GFP) and Govind Gawde and Rohan Khaunte (both independents) took their oaths as cabinet ministers. 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.
The ceremony, held at a cramped Raj Bhavan, was to take place at 11 pm Monday but was delayed due to inexplicable reasons.
"We have managed to convince the alliance partners and finalised the formula of two deputy chief ministers for the state," a senior BJP functionary told news agency PTI.
Pramod Sawant has been the Goa Assembly Speaker since March 22, 2017. He also represented Sanquelim seat of North Goa in state Assembly.
The BJP with its allies has 20 MLAs in the house where the majority mark is 19. The strength of the Goa legislative assembly is 40. The BJP is backed by the Goa Forward Party, MGP and an independent.
Earlier, Goa BJP president Vinay Tendulkar had said there would be clarity on who would be the state's new chief minister by on Monday. Tendulkar said this after meeting Union minister and senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari at a hotel near here over the issue.
Earlier in the day, Gadkari met Dhavalikar and BJP legislator Vishwajit Rane. Dhavalikar and Rane were also aspirants for the chief minister's post, BJP sources said.
Sawant's elevation to the top post in the coastal state followed hectic parleys between the BJP and its alliance partners. Sawant's political career began in the BJP as a youth leader. A staunch Parrikar supporter, he had worked closely with the late leader. He won the 2012 and 2017 Assembly elections from North Goa's Sankhalim constituency, which used to be a Congress stronghold.
He was among the few BJP MLAs who got re-elected in their constituencies during the state polls two years ago, when the party managed to win only 13 seats as compared to t 21 in the 2012 elections.
When Parrikar cobbled up an alliance with the Goa Forward Party, the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and Independents in 2017 despite the Congress being the single largest party, Sawant was elected the Assembly Speaker.
He is a former chairman of the Goa State Infrastructure Development Corporation, a special purpose vehicle set up by Parrikar to take up various infrastructure works in the coastal state.
Sawant holds a Bachelor's Degree in Ayurveda, Medicine and Surgery from Ganga Education Society's Ayurvedic College in Kolhapur district of Maharashtra. His wife Sulakshana heads the BJP Mahila Morcha in Goa.
(With PTI inputs)