Laxmikant Parsekar was sworn in as the new chief minister of Goa on Saturday, overcoming internal strife within the state unit of the BJP and replacing Manohar Parrikar, who is set to join the Union cabinet on Sunday.
Parsekar, who was the health minister in Parrikar’s cabinet and is known to have strong RSS links, is the 18th CM of Goa after it attained statehood. The three-time MLA from Mandrem in North Goa, along with nine cabinet members, was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Goa Governor Mridula Sinha on Saturday evening.
Earlier in the day, Parrikar resigned as CM to take up his new assignment in New Delhi, following which he presided over the BJP’s legislative committee meeting. Immediately after the meeting, which lasted a couple of hours, the party’s central observer, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, announced that Parsekar has been unanimously chosen to head the state.
“His name was proposed by outgoing CM Parrikar and seconded by outgoing deputy CM Francis D’Souza. D’Souza will be the deputy CM in the new cabinet,” said Rudy.
On Friday, backed by a few of the 21 BJP MLAs who were rooting for a CM from the Catholic community, D’Souza had openly rebelled against the party, threatening to quit the cabinet if he was not made the CM. On Saturday, a much subdued D’Souza told The Sunday Express, “Yesterday I was under the impression that Parsekar’s name was nominated by the party. Today party observers (Rudy and B S Yeddyurappa) met each of the party MLAs personally and all of them agreed on Parsekar’s candidature. I cannot be upset with the election process,” he said.
D’Souza is the party’s senior-most leader from the minority Catholic community, which accounts for over 30 per cent of the state’s population. The community is especially strong in South Goa, one of the two parliamentary constituencies in the state and traditionally a Congress bastion which voted for BJP in the recent Lok Sabha elections. Asked whether minority community voters will continue to favour the BJP, D’ Souza said, “Only time will tell.”
Parrikar said every member was given a hearing by party observers before a decision was taken on the new CM. “I had told all three contenders that I will remain neutral,” said Parrikar, referring to Parsekar, D’Souza and Goa Speaker Rajendra Arlekar.
Minutes after the swearing-in, Parsekar said, “From losing my deposit to becoming an MLA and a minister and finally the CM of Goa, I owe it all to the mentorship of Parrikar.” He added that his working style will be different from Parrikar in that unlike his predecessor, who independently oversaw the clearing of every file himself, leaving little work for everyone else, he will delegate more work to his ministers.