2 Deputy CMs in 11-member Cabinet
Goa Governor Mridula Sinha has convened a special session of the Assembly on Wednesday for a floor test of the BJP-led coalition government of Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, who took charge in the early hours of Tuesday.
Mr. Sawant was sworn in as the 11th Chief Minister at the Raj Bhavan around 2 a.m. The 11-member Cabinet, which was also administered the oath of office, included two Deputy Chief Ministers — Sudin Dhavlikar of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and Vijai Sardesai of the Goa Forward Party. The Cabinet included all Ministers under Manohar Parrikar, who died on Sunday.
Mr. Sawant said the portfolios would be allocated in the next few days. With Mr. Sawant resigning as the Speaker, BJP MLA and Deputy Speaker Michael Lobo will be in the Speaker’s chair to conduct the floor test.
The BJP-led coalition has a majority of 21 in the truncated House of 36 MLAs — 12 BJP members, three each of the MGP and the Goa Forward Party and three Independents.
On the Opposition benches, the Congress has 14 MLAs and the Nationalist Congress Party has one MLA.
A key bone of contention in Monday’s negotiations steered by Union Minister Nitin Gandkari,was Mr. Dhavlikar’s younger brother and MGP president Dipak Dhavlikar’s determination to contest the Shiroda Assembly bypolls. The seat was vacated by Congress MLA Subhash Shirodkar, who joined the BJP, and goes to polls on April 23 along with the Lok Sabha polls in the State and two other Assembly bypolls.
While BJP insiders claimed on late Monday that Mr. Gadkari succeeded in convincing Mr. Dhavlikar to persuade his brother to withdraw from the Shiroda by-election in exchange for the deputy chief minister’s post he got along with Mr. Vijai Sardesai of Goa Forward, Mr. Dipak Dhavlikar on Tuesday ruled out his withdrawal, claiming the MGP got only two Cabinet berths as against the promised three.
Given the BJP’s lower numbers compared to the Congress, the three Assembly by-elections along with the election to two Lok Sabha constituencies in the State, assume significance for the stability of the coalition government.
Before reaching office, Mr Sawant called on the family of his mentor and predecessor, Mr Manohar Parrikar, and met his family. “Mr. Parrikar has been my political idol, guru and father figure… I am in politics, became a MLA, Speaker and now Chief Minister, all because of him. It is my duty to visit them (the late CM’s sons) after I become Chief Minister,” Mr. Sawant told reporters.
Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh wished new Goa Chief Minister Pramod 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,” Mr Modi tweeted.