The portfolios for nine Ministers of the newly-formed Goa Cabinet were allocated on Sunday with Chief Minister leader Pramod Sawant retaining the crucial Home and Finance departments.
According to a notification issued by the General Administration department, Dr. Sawant also kept the Vigilance, Official Languages and Personnel portfolios.
BJP MLA from Valpoi, Vishwajit Rane, perceived as ‘number 2’ in the Goa BJP hierarchy, retained the Health (a portfolio he held in the erstwhile Cabinet as well) department along with Urban Development, Women and Child and Forest departments.
Dr. Sawant, along with eight other BJP MLAs was sworn in as Ministers of the new Cabinet on March 28 in the presence of party heavyweights including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Senior MLA from Dabolim Mauvin Godinho has been given charge of Transport and Industries, while former Chief Minister Ravi Naik, who helped the BJP win the Ponda seat for the first time since 1963, has been allotted Agriculture.
The crucial Public Works Department portfolio has been allotted to Nilesh Cabral along with Legislative Affairs, Environment and Law and Judiciary portfolios.
Atanasio ‘Babush’ Monserrate, the MLA from Panaji who narrowly defeated rebel candidate Utpal Parrikar (son of the late BJP Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar), has been assigned the Revenue, Labour and Waste Management portfolios — the last being held by Michael Lobo in the previous BJP government under Dr. Sawant before Mr. Lobo’s defection to the Congress.
While nine Cabinet berths have been filled, three posts remain vacant and are likely to be filled with non-BJP MLAs — three independents and two Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) legislators — who had unconditionally extended their support to the BJP soon after the Goa Assembly results were declared on March 10.
The three berths have at least four claimants who include MGP leader and seven-term MLA Sudin Dhavalikar and the three independents — Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco (Curtorim), Dr. Chandrakant Shetye (Bicholim) and Antonio Vas (Cortalim).
However, there is considerable opposition to inducting the MGP into the Cabinet given that the party had fought the election in concert with the Trinamool Congress on an anti-BJP plank.
Also, with the BJP winning the Ponda Assembly seat (in south Goa) for the first time since 1963 (when the first Goa Assembly elections were held) thanks to the induction of former congressman and ex-Chief Minister Ravi Naik into the saffron fold ahead of the polls this year, a number of leaders from that belt are particularly unwilling to see Mr. Dhavalikar being part of the Cabinet.
This is because the MGP leader’s Marcaim Assembly constituency skirts dangerously close to the Ponda segment, which is perceived to be leading to conflicts of influence if the BJP take the MGP along with it.