‘Obvious first choice…’: Pramod Sawant likely to return as Goa chief minister

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PANAJI: Goa caretaker chief minister Pramod Sawant on Wednesday called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi along with state BJP president Sadanand Shet Tanavade and organisation secretary Satish Dhond indicating that he is likely to return to the helm despite moves by others, especially by former health minister Vishwajit Rane, to claim the top post.

State BJP leaders revealed that Sawant, who resigned as chief minister late last week and was appointed as caretaker chief minister, is the “obvious first choice” for the CM’s seat.

“We had gone into the assembly elections under the leadership of Sawant and emerged with a majority. The decision will be announced after a meeting of the BJP legislature party which will decide who the leader will be,” a state BJP leader said. The meeting is likely to be held on March 21.

Sawant narrowly won his seat in Sanquelim while the BJP saw its numbers reduce from 27 to 20. The Congress which went into the elections with a single MLA in the house increased its numbers to 11.

The 40 MLAs were sworn in on Tuesday in a single session of the Goa Legislative Assembly, marking the first such swearing-in in the history of the state without having a chief minister or a cabinet in place.

The BJP was also keen to keep a lid on speculation that rises with each passing day over who the next chief minister will be, as reports of lobbying for the top post have emerged. Besides Sawant, former Health Minister Vishwajit Rane too is reportedly lobbying with the central leadership to be the chief minister.

In the polls, the BJP emerged as the single largest party, winning 20 seats. The MGP, which fought the Goa elections in an alliance with the Trinamool Congress (TMC), won two seats. The TMC did not win any seats.

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