Parrikar takes oath as Goa CM; to prove majority on Thursday

Panaji: Manohar Parrikar, who quit as Defence Minister, was today sworn in as chief minister of Goa to head a coalition government of local allies and Independents, three days after the BJP ended up second behind the Congress in a fractured mandate.

Earlier in the day, the Congress suffered a setback in the Supreme Court which refused to stay 61-year-old Parrikar's swearing-in ceremony as sought by the party.

According to the directions of the apex court, Parrikar, who claimed to have support of 21 MLAs including 13 of the BJP, will have to prove majority on the floor of the assembly on March 16.

The decks for his swearing-in were cleared after a bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar refused to grant the stay on the Congress' plea and ordered a floor test.

The bench directed that the assembly session be called at 11 AM on March 16 exclusively for holding of the floor test after swearing-in of the members.

Parrikar returned to Goa as the chief minister for the fourth time, though he could not complete full terms in his earlier stints.

He had formally staked claim to form the coalition government on Sunday, following which he got an invite from Governor Mridula Sinha to prove majority in House.

At a function held at the Raj Bhavan, the governor administered the oath of office and secrecy to Parrikar along with nine MLAs including two members of the BJP, three of the Goa Forward Party, two of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and as many Independents.

They will be allotted ministerial portfolios after the floor test.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended his best wishes to Parrikar on becoming the chief minister of Goa and hoped that he will take the state to new heights of progress.

Addressing reporters later, Parrikar exuded confidence that his government will last its full term.

"I would prove majority on the floor of the House on Thursday only after which the portfolios would be distributed to the ministers who are inducted in the cabinet. The day after tomorrow, the procedure of proving majority on the floor of the House would be completed," he said.

Parrikar said the regional parties have taken the lead to form this government and have requested him to head the dispensation by resigning as defence minister.

"My priority would be to retain speciality of Goa that is Goanness. The statement about the common minimum programme (CMP) would be issued within a month," he said.

The BJP leader, who is an IIT-Bombay alumnus, said they have the support of 22 MLAs in total.

"There was a speculation for last two days whether BJP really got the majority required to form the government and here we are, we have 22 legislators with us," he said.

Among the allies who took oath along with Parrikar are Ramakrishna alias Sudin Dhavalikar and Manohar Asgaonkar (both MGP), Vijai Sardesai, Jayesh Salgaoncar and Vinod Palyekar (all GFP), and Independents Rohan Khaunte and Govind Gawade.

The two BJP MLAs who were sworn in are outgoing deputy chief minister Francis D'Souza and Pandurang Madkaikar.

BJP president Amit Shah along with Union ministers Venkaiah Naidu and Nitin Gadkari were present at the ceremony.

PTI