Newly-sworn in Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant has said he will take forward the legacy of his predecessor Manohar Parrikar as he admitted he had a “big responsibility” before him.
Parrikar, who was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer in February last year, died on Sunday evening. Political uncertainty arose in Goa on Monday after a decision by the BJP top brass to elevate Sawant, the Speaker in the state assembly, was not fully accepted by allies MGP and GFP initially, a BJP leader said on condition of anonymity.
The more than 24-hour discussion over who would succeed Parrikar exposed deep fissures in the current coalition government that is likely to persist posing a unique challenge for the relatively inexperienced Sawant.
“Parrikar is not amongst us now and the responsibility has been given collectively to me by my party, alliance partners and independent MLAs. This is a big responsibility. Manohar Parrikar was a visionary leader and he had carried out a great body of work for the state,” Sawant said.
Sawant said he planned to focus on “human and infrastructure development” explaining that Parrikar “did a lot of work for the youth, people and in the social sector through the schemes he conceived.”
Goa: Pramod Sawant takes oath as the new Chief Minister of the state, at the Raj Bhavan. pic.twitter.com/bFq1j1B80t
— ANI (@ANI) March 18, 2019
“Whatever time is needed I will give for Goa. I and my associates will work on the principle of ‘Antyodaya,’ to reach out to the last person in society,” the 45-year-old said.
Besides the chief minister, the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party’s (MGP’s) Sudin Dhavalikar and the Goa Forward Party’s (GFP’s) Vijai Sardesai were sworn in as ministers but given the titular post of deputy chief minister.
Other ministers in the Parrikar cabinet — including the MGP’s Manohar Ajgaonkar, Independents Rohan Khaunte and Govind Gaude, Goa Forwards Vinoda Paliencar and Jayesh Salgaocar and the BJP’s Mauvin Godinho, Vishwajit Rane, Milind Naik and Nilesh Cabral were all reinducted in the cabinet with the distribution of portfolios expected to take place within eight days.
Sawant’s wife Sulakshana Sawant, the head of the BJP’s women’s wing, spoke of mixed emotions on seeing her husband who was never even a minister beat the odds to succeed Manohar Parrikar as the state chief minister.
“It is a day of mixed emotions for us. We have lost one of our greatest leaders Manohar Parrikar who was like a father to us. But only because of his blessings and guidance this could have happened. More than the joy, the sense of great responsibility we feel right now is greater,” she said.
Sawant found favor with the BJP’s leadership on account of his long association with the party since his days of active participation in its youth wing. Sawant was the president of the Goa BJP youth wing as recently as seven years ago while also holding the charge as the national deputy secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM).
Sawant faces challenges of not only ensuring that his party is able to confidently face and win the three upcoming bypolls on which the survival of his government depends, but also the Lok Sabha elections and the issue of mining.
Sawant, whose Sanquelim constituency lies in the heart of the mining belt, said he would not be able to “answer all questions now” while speaking on the issue.
Leaders of alliance partner Goa Forward Vijai Sardesai also spoke of taking the legacy forward and reiterated his commitment to the coalition government.
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