Goa: A rare, unprecedented transfer of power

Goa: A rare, unprecedented transfer of power

Newly sworn-in Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant takes charge at his office, in Panaji. PTI photo

The demise of Manohar Parrikar had created a void in Goa politics, but when the new government was sworn-in, it saw a rare and unprecedented transfer of power.

When the 12-member ministry headed by Chief Minister Pramod Sawant was sworn-in by governor Mridula Sinha, it was a sigh of relief for the BJP.

From Sunday evening, when Parrikar passed away, till the early hours of Tuesday, the suspense continued for nearly 36 hours.

BJP president Amit Shah and Union ministers Nitin Gadkari and Shripad Naik, who hail from Goa, oversaw the process of government formation.

For the BJP leadership, it was essential that the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and the Goa Forward Party (GFP), with three MLAs each, and three Independents be kept in good humour.

Without Parrikar, things were difficult for the party, and the first task before it was as to who will replace him.

The two names before it: Sawant, with his RSS background, and Vishwajit Rane (46), son of six-time Goa Chief Minister Pratapsinh Rane of the Congress.

It was decided by 6 pm on Monday, it was decided that it would be better to give the post to Sawant, who was groomed by the party, than to Rane, who jumped ship from the Congress.

Rane also agreed to this. Deputy speaker Michael Lobo was also interested in the top job, had to be convinced.

All this was happening even as Leader of the Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar met Sinha and staked claim to form government citing numbers.

The second task was to endorse Sawant's name, as MGP leader Sudin Dhavalikar and his GFP counterpart Vijay Sardesai too are CM aspirants and had supported the BJP in 2017 on the ground that Parrikar be the head of government.

By 8 pm, MGP and GFP and Independents like Rohan Khaunte and Govind Gaude agreed on Sawant's name after state BJP president Vinay Tendulkar formally communicated the party decision to them.

It was decided earlier that GFP will three berths in ministry but Sardesai was elevated as deputy CM.

The MGP had also demanded three berths in Cabinet. In addition, Dhavalikar bargained for the post of deputy chief minister.

As BJP top men Nitin Gadkari and Amit Shah said no to this, Dhavalikar was apparently missed and the crisis deepened.

Sources said MGP MLAs Manohar Ajgaonkar and Deepak Pawaskar had been convinced to come out of MGP fold and give a letter of support to BJP or join the saffron party.

Gadkari, a known troubleshooter, however, ensured that doors are not closed and around midnight called Dhavalikar to Raj Bhavan.

He was convinced, given an additional deputy CM post and another berth to Ajgaonkar.

Pawaskar will be accommodated in some way or the other.

The governor was informed through the protocol department around 1.30 am that all was okay — the swearing-in ceremony started at 1.50 am.

Sawant was sworn-in around 2 am, and by 2.30 am, there was a smile on the faces of the leaders. But Parrikar was missed.