New Delhi: Hours after Manohar Parrikar was laid to rest with full state honours at Marimar beach, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Goa Assembly speaker Pramod Sawant was sworn in as the 11th Chief Minister of the state. Besides a full-fledged Chief Minister, the ruling party also appointed two Deputy Chief Ministers- Vijai Sardesai and Sudin Dhavalikar- MLAs from Goa Forward Party (GFP) and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP).

Nine other ministers were sworn in at the late night ceremony, said reports. These were MGP’s  Manohar Ajgaonkar, BJP’s Mauvin Godinho, Vishwajit Rane, Milind Naik and Nilesh Cabral, Goa Forward Party’s Vinod Palyekar and Jayesh Salgaonkar & Independent MLAs Rohan Khaunte and Govind Gawade.

Notably, both parties (GFP and MGP) have three MLAs each and their support is essential to form a government in the coastal state whose 40-strong Assembly is currently down to 36 members. If reports are to be believed, both Sardesai and Dhavalikar had initially refused to publicly endorse Sawant’s candidature as the MGP leader himself has put his hat in the ring for the Chief Minister’s post.

Later, BJP President Amit Shah, after attending Parrikar’s cremation, assumed charge of negotiating with potential allies and convinced them to accept Sawant, 46, as the new face of the BJP-led coalition government in Goa.

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, who has been camping in a city resort since late Sunday night, had already said that the BJP had ‘finalised’ its CM candidate and the party was in talks with political parties and Independent candidates who were a part of the erstwhile BJP-led coalition government.

Parrikar laid to rest

Earlier on Monday, the mortal remains of Parrikar were cremated amid a 21 gun salute at the Miramar beach, which is a part of Parrikar’s Panaji assembly constituency. The funeral pyre was lit by his elder son Utpal Parrikar. Parrikar is survived by two sons Utpal and Abhijat, their wives and a grandson.

Top politicians from across India, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Union Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman, Nitin Gadkari, Smriti Irani, Suresh Prabhu and Ramdas Athawale, offered floral tributes to Parrikar. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also paid his last respects to the departed soul.

The late Goa Chief Minister, aged 63, died at his private residence in Panaji on Sunday evening after a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer. The first Bharatiya Janata Party leader to be Goa Chief Minister, Parrikar headed the state from 2000-05 and 2012-14, before joining the Narendra Modi government as Defence Minister from 2014.

Congress’ effort to form govt in Goa goes in vain

Earlier on Sunday, the Congress party had claimed to be the single largest party in the 36-member state legislative Assembly and had formally staked its claim to form the government in Goa.

“The coalition partners of the Parrikar-led government had allied with the BJP on the condition that the government would be headed by Parrikar, the then Defence Minister of India. The BJP, therefore, has no allies as of now,” Congress leader of the Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar said in a letter to Sinha.

Furthermore, Kavlekar stated that it was up to her (Sinha) to ensure a “smooth transition and transfer of power” in the state.

“The Congress being the single largest party, its leader is entitled to be invited to form the next government. We therefore once again stake our claim to form the government and request Your Excellency to extend the invitation to our leaders to form the next government,” the letter read.