Panjim: After days of speculations, Mormugao MLA Milind Naik and Curchorem MLA Nilesh Cabral were sworn into the Manohar Parrikar cabinet in a simple ceremony, which was probably for the first time held in the absence of the chief minister.
Governor Dr Mridula Sinha administered the oath of office and secrecy to the two new ministers in the presence of a huge gathering including cabinet ministers, supporters and officials.
Earlier in the day Chief Minister Parrikar dropped two senior ministers – Francis D’Souza and Pandurang Madkaikar, from his cabinet. The development came a day after BJP president Amit Shah said there will be a cabinet reshuffle soon but the ruling party in the State would stick with Parrikar as the chief minister despite his illness.
The move was to counter criticism from the opposition Congress that the BJP-led coalition government had stopped functioning and brought governance to a halt. D’Souza and Madkaikar, have been ailing for some time. While D’Souza is fighting cancer at a US hospital, Madkaikar suffered a brain stroke in Mumbai.
The new ministers are yet to be allocated portfolios. “The portfolio distribution and reshuffle would be done by tomorrow,” sources told Herald.
The induction came as a huge surprise to Naik, who won by just 100-odd votes in the last elections. Naik said he was shocked by the Chief Minister’s call Monday morning. “It was a pleasant surprise. I never lobbied for ministry. But I had faith in God,” he told reporters after the swearing in. On the portfolio he is looking for, Naik said, it is up to the chief minister to decide. “I am happy he has chosen me and I am ready to work on anything he gives me,” he stated.
Cabral said that with or without a ministry he would always work for the resumption of legal mining.
“I am happy that the Chief Minister has given me this responsibility. He has been my role model and will continue to be one and I will give my best to whatever responsibility he gives me,” he said.
On his role on mining resumption, he said, “With or without ministry, I will
strive for people of the mining areas. I have done that in the past and I will continue to work for them,” he stated.
Earlier, BJP had explored the possibility of replacing Parrikar who is admitted at Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences but appears to have given up the idea, for now. There were indications that it might be difficult to hold the coalition together in the absence of Parrikar, especially since the coalition partners had made Parrikar’s return to Goa as the condition for their support in 2017.
Speaker Pramod Sawant, Ministers Ramkrisha (Sudin) Dhavalikar, Vijai Sardesai, Babu Azgaonkar, Vishwajit Rane, Rohan Khaunte, Mauvin Godinho, Jayesh Salgaocar, Vinod Palyekar and Govind Gaude were present for the function along with Deepak Pauskar, Rajesh Patnekar and Alina Saldanha. BJP observers Vijay Puranik and BL Santhosh were also present. [H]