Three-time MLA Pramod Sawant, who led the Bharatiya Janata Party to win 20 seats in the recently concluded elections to the 40-member Goa assembly, was sworn in as the state's chief minister for the second time on Monday in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other dignitaries.
Goa Governor P S Sreedharan Pillai administered the oath to Sawant (48) and eight other BJP MLAs as cabinet ministers in a ceremony held at Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee stadium at Bambolim near Panaji, four km from the Raj Bhavan. Over 10,000 people were present during the function.
Prime Minister Modi, Union ministers Nitin Gadkari, Shripad Naik, BJP national president J P Nadda, Himachal Pradesh governor Rajendra Arlekar (who hails from Goa) and Maharashtra's former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who was the BJP’s Goa election in-charge, were among those who attended the event.
This was the second time that Goa's chief minister was sworn in outside the Raj Bhavan. In 2012, Manohar Parrikar had taken oath as CM at a ground in Campal area of the state capital Panaji after the BJP emerged as the single largest party in the House.
Sawant took the oath in Konkani language. This is his second term as the state's chief minister. He became the CM for the first time in March 2019 after the demise of Parrikar.
Besides Sawant, the others who took oath are Vishwajit Rane, Mauvin Godinho, Ravi Naik, Nilesh Cabral, Subhash Shirodkar, Rohan Khaunte, Govind Gaude and Atanasio Monserratte.
Rane, Godinho, Cabral and Gaude were part of the Sawant-led cabinet from 2019-22, while Khaunte was a minister in the Parrikar-headed government and was dropped from the cabinet in 2019.
Four ministers in Sawant’s earlier ministry -- Jennifer Monserrate, Filipe Rodrigues, Michael Lobo and Deepak Pauskar -- have been dropped.
Jennifer Monserrate, who was the only woman minister in Sawant’s first term as chief minister, had looked after the departments of revenue, IT, labour and employment. She was also the first woman MLA to be elected from Taleigao constituency for two successive terms.
Filipe Nery Rodrigues, who had joined the BJP in 2019, was elected as a member of the Goa legislative assembly from the Congress in 2017 and had subsequently joined the BJP.
Michael Lobo joined the Congress in January this year, just ahead of the Goa assembly elections 2022.
Deepak Pauskar had served as the minister for public works. However, he resigned from the position as well as the party after he was denied a ticket in the polls.
The stadium, located on the outskirts of Panaji, was decked up for the occasion and a three-layer security cover was in place at the venue in the wake of the presence of a number of VVIPs.
As Prime Minister Modi arrived on the stage at 11 am, the crowd gave him a rousing welcome. Before the function began, the PM arrived at a helipad near the venue in a helicopter from the INS Hansa base in Vasco. Soon after the function, around 12.30 pm, the PM left for Delhi.
The attendees were barred from wearing black colour clothes or black masks for the function.
Several BJP supporters present at the event cheered every time the governor called a minister to take oath.
Sawant got the maximum applause when he got up to take oath.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah was not present at the function, but he extended his good wishes to Sawant and his team.
"Congratulations to @DrPramodPSawant and all those who took oath to serve Goa. I am sure that this team under the guidance of PM @narendramodi Ji will work tirelessly to fulfil the aspirations of the people of Goa and take the state to the newer heights of progress," Shah tweeted.
Talking to reporters after the function, newly sworn in minister Khaunte said the state government will work as per wishes of the people.
The Goa government is committed towards the well-being of the state, he added.
In the recently concluded state polls, the BJP won 20 seats, one short of the majority in the 40-member House. Three independent MLAs and two legislators of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party have extended support to the BJP.
With the swearing-in on Monday, nine cabinet berths have been filled. Besides chief minister, the Goa cabinet can have 11 more ministers.
After the function, Goa BJP president Sadanand Shet Tanavade told reporters that three more ministers will be inducted "within a month or two". He, however, refused to reveal whether those berths will be filled by non-BJP legislators.
Meanwhile, Governor Pillai has summoned a two-day session of the new assembly from March 29 during which Sawant will have to seek a vote of confidence, officials earlier said.
A new speaker would also be elected during the session, which is expected to complete a range of legislative business, including passing of bills and a vote-on-account (an exercise to deal with short-term expenditure needs of government), they said.
While the BJP has fielded MLA Ramesh Tawadkar for the Speaker's post, the opposition has nominated Congress legislator Aleixo Sequeira.