Laxmikant Parsekar, an old RSS hand who helped build BJP in Goa, was on Saturday sworn-in as Chief Minister of the coastal state after he snuffed out competition from his senior and Deputy CM Francis D’Souza to succeed Manohar Parrikar who is expected to join the Union Cabinet.
The 58-year-old Parsekar, an MLA from Mandrem, was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Mridula Sinha at a ceremony at Raj Bhavan, along with nine other ministers — seven from BJP and two from its alliance partner Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP).
Francis D’Souza, Dayanand Mandrekar, Ramesh Tawadkar, Mahadev Naik, Dilip Parulekar, Milind Naik, Alina Saldanha (all from BJP) and Ramakrishna alias Sudin Dhavalikar and Dipak Dhavalikar (both from MGP), all of whom were ministers in the previous Manohar Parrikar government, have been retained in the Parsekar ministry.
“I am very happy to have been unanimously elected,” Parsekar said on being elected the leader at a meeting of the BJP Legislature Party soon after Parrikar resigned earlier today.
With strong backing from RSS and BJP, he quelled the challenge thrown by D’Souza, the senior-most minister in the Parrikar government and the catholic face of BJP who had yesterday staked claim to the post, citing his seniority. His name was proposed by Parrikar and seconded by the D’Souza, who was mollified by the party leadership.
“Yesterday, the chief minister was being nominated. Today he has been elected by the 21 MLAs…. I cannot be upset with an election process. When there is an election and majority of MLAs vote for him, how can I be upset,” D’Souza said.
D’Souza had said he will not join the new government if he was not made the Chief Minister. However, he was among those who were sworn-in this evening.
“I don’t have the numbers with me,” he said on queries about his claim to the post. Parsekar is the third BJP leader with strong RSS links to be appointed as Chief Minister in less than two months after Manohar Lal Khattar in Haryana and Devendra Fadnavis in Maharashtra.
D’Souza told journalists after the swearing-in ceremony that he will continue to occupy Deputy CM’s post.
“I will continue as Deputy CM. It was the decision of the party and I have to abide by it,” he said. Parsekar’s elevation as Chief Minister capped swift political developments that began with Parrikar’s visit to Delhi on Wednesday where his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah set off speculation about his impending shift to the Centre.
The 58-year-old technocrat-turned politician had taken over as Chief Minister in March 2012 after BJP rode to power in the state.
Earlier in the day, Parrikar, who is being tipped to become the Defence Minister, faxed his resignation to Governor Mridula Sinha, before heading for a meeting of the BJP Legislature Party to elect the new leader to replace him.
Though the proceedings were expected to be a little difficult with D’Souza throwing his hat into the ring, the BJP leadership succeeded in placating him and persuading him to join the Parsekar government.
“Parsekar was elected the leader of the BJP Legislature Party unanimously,” said party general secretary Rajiv Pratap Rudy, party’s observer for the election.