Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant reshuffled his Cabinet on Saturday swearing in four new ministers and including three recently inducted from the Congress at the expense of four others — three Goa Forward MLAs who were ministers and one Independent MLA.
The four ministers were sworn in by Governor of Goa Mridula Sinha in a ceremony at the picturesque Raj Bhavan at Dona Paula in Panaji.
Chandrakant Kavlekar, who until Wednesday was the Leader of Opposition in the Goa Assembly, Michael Lobo a BJP MLA who until this morning was the Deputy Speaker in the Goa Legislative Assembly, Jennifer Monserrate and Filipe Neri Rodrigues were sworn in as ministers. Kavlekar will be given the title of Deputy Speaker, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant announced.
While Sawant claimed the move was according to instructions he received from the party’s high command, a livid Goa Forward Party accused Sawant of betraying the party which had helped the BJP come to power despite not having adequate numbers and of trampling upon late Manohar Parrikar’s legacy.
“Ten MLAs from the Congress approached us unconditionally so we had welcomed them into our party. When our party’s numbers reached 27 MLAs, we approached our party leaders informing them of the numbers and seeking advice. According to instructions from the party’s central leadership, we have dropped four ministers. We have not cheated anyone,” Sawant said.
Sawant added that the order concerning the portfolios to the newly sworn in MLAs would be issued latest by Monday before the start of the Monsoon session of the Goa Legislative Assembly that begins on Monday.
Vijai Sardesai and the group of MLAs were dropped from the cabinet prior to the swearing in after having been asked on Friday evening to put in their papers.
“This is a betrayal of an NDA ally. We are a party which is part of the NDA and we have been ditched. We have been ditched after they have brought in people of questionable character,” Sardesai said.
“Today Parrikar’s close team, who came together to build a new Goa, is being dismantled. There was one period in Russia after Stalin died, during the rule of Khrushchev. It was called the period of destalinization. It was meant to finish Stalin’s legacy. That is happening with Parrikar’s legacy today,” Sardesai said.
“Maybe we were hurdles to this clean sweep involving dismantling of Parrikar’s legacy which is the only plausible reason I feel they have taken this type of a suicidal step,” he added.
“Parrikar died twice. He died physically on March 17 and today he died politically,” Sardesai said.
He said that his party would cease supporting the government and would now sit in the opposition.
“I am withdrawing my support. We will give a letter before the swearing in ceremony to the Governor and we will sit in the opposition. And we will sit as watchdogs for Goans,” Sardesai said.
When asked to comment on Sardesai’s allegation that he was out to finish Parrikar’s legacy, Sawant said: “I do not wish to comment.”
The swearing in culminates more than 36 hours of political developments in Goa, which began after a group of 10 Congress MLAs split from the party and gave a letter to the Speaker informing him that they were ‘merging’ with the BJP. Since the group consisted 2/3rd of the strength of the Congress in the legislative assembly they did not attract provisions of the anti defection law.
Jul 13, 2019 20:06 IST