Goa for the Bharatiya Janata Party had all been about the former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who also served as Union Minister for Defence, but the party now is banking on Pramod Sawant, set to take reign of the government here for the second term, to achieve the generational change in leadership in the coastal state.
Sawant, 48, is widely known to have been the protege of Parrikar.
Parrikar, a former IIT graduate, was the flag-bearer of the BJP in the coastal state for decades.
Drafted in politics by Parrikar, Sawant steadily rose the ranks in the state unit of the BJP, and soon plunged into electoral politics.
First, he unsuccessfully contested the by-elections in 2008 on the BJP ticket from the Pale Assembly seat. He, however, lost to Congress’ Pratap Gauns.
Sawant stayed put, working in the shadow of Parrikar, and was back in the electoral fray in 2012 Assembly elections. He tasted success, and won from the Sanquelim Assembly constituency. The party entrusted him with the responsibility of the spokesperson.
In the 2017 Assembly polls, Sawant repeated his electoral success, and was rewarded with elevation after he was elected to the Speaker of the Goa Assembly.
Sawant, incidentally, was groomed by Parrikar with aims that he should helm the affairs of the BJP in the state as part of the strategy to help generational shift in the leadership. After Parrikar’s death following a prolonged battle with cancer in 2019, the BJP found Sawant ready to take the riegn of the state, becoming the Chief Minister.
Beginning his journey as the Chief Minister after swearing-in as 13th Chief Minister of Goa on March 19, 2019, he made a mark in the BJP’s Goa politics, stepping out of the shadow of the Parrikar and leading the the party at a time when the aspirations of the senior leaders knew no limits.
His elevation to the top post in the coastal state followed hectic parleys between the BJP and its alliance partners. While Congress had emerge as the single largest party in 2017 Goa Assembly polls, Parrikar had cobbled up an alliance with the Goa Forward Party, the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and Independents to form the government. Sawant settled in the shadows of Parrikar to take the alliance partners onboard, providing political stability to the state.
Sawant carried forward the BJP’s bid to deny tickets to sons and daughters of party’s leaders to build the anti-dynasty poll plank in the Assembly polls in five states. With the BJP denying ticket to Manohar Parrikar’s son Utpal Parrikar from his father’s traditional seat, Panaji, Sawant is credited to have carried the party show and ensure the victory of the official nominee.
Even former Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and rebel BJP leader, who contested from the Mandrem Assembly seat as an Independent candidate lost. That was despite Parsekar building campaign on plank that he is “equidistant” from both Congress and the BJP.
Sawant is also credited in the BJP for keeping the party flock together, warding off ‘poaching’ bids of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Trinamool Congress (TMC), the two new entrants in the electoral politics of Goa.
In the recently concluded state Assembly polls, the BJP emerged as the single largest party in Goa, winning 20 seats in the 40-member state Assembly while Congress came a distant second with 11 seats.
The BJP has bagged the support of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and independent candidates.
Sawant holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Ayurveda, Medicine and Surgery from Ganga Education Society’s Ayurvedic College in Kolhapur district of Maharashtra. His wife Sulakshana heads the BJP Mahila Morcha in Goa. (ANI)