Panaji, March 18 (IANS) Goa stands on the verge of a new but possibly shaky political era, with its tallest leader and Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar cremated with full military and state honours on Monday and the BJP identifying his replacement in Pramod Sawant.
However, the elevation of Sawant, currently the Assembly Speaker, has not been fully accepted by potential alliance partners till late on Monday, according to political sources.
Sources said that after attending Parrikar’s cremation, which saw thousands take to the streets to bid their leader goodbye, BJP President Amit Shah late on Monday assumed charge of negotiating with potential allies and tried to convince them to accept Sawant, 46, as the new face of the BJP-led coalition government.
Bharatiya Janata Party sources said that one of the formulas being worked out by Shah is to allot a Deputy Chief Minister position to one of the two key alliance partners – the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and Goa Forward. Both parties 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.
“The arrangement will be worked out and finalised tonight,” a BJP leader said on condition of anonymity.
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, who has been camping in a city resort since late on Sunday night, had already said that the BJP had already “finalised” it’s 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.
However, both Vijai Sardesai, who heads Goa Forward and Sudin Dhavalikar, the legislature party chief of the MGP, had refused to publicly endorse Sawant’s candidature till late on Monday.
Dhavalikar himself has put his hat in the ring for the Chief Minister’s post according to BJP MLA Michael Lobo, who was part of the BJP negotiating team.
The Congress has 14 MLAs while the BJP has 12, the MGP and Goa Forward three each, the National Congress Party one, while there are also three independent MLAs.
The Congress has been repeatedly requesting Governor Mridula Sinha for an opportunity to form the government as it is the single largest party in the assembly. “We have a natural claim to form the government,” Leader of Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar said.
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, two daughter in-laws 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 also offered floral tributes to Parrikar.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also paid his last respects to the departed soul.