PANAJI: Bharatiya Janata Party MLAs from Curchorem Nilesh Cabral and Milind Naik from Mormugao were on Monday sworn-in as ministers in the Goa Cabinet at Raj Bhawan. Cabral and Naik were administered the oath of office by Governor Mridula Sinha at a simple ceremony in Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar's absence.
The two posts in the Cabinet fell vacant after ailing ministers Francis D'Souza and Pandurang Madkaikar were dropped from the ministry. The Cabinet reshuffle on health grounds comes at a time when Parrikar has also been admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi.
There has been a lot of criticism over Parrikar retaining the post despite his illness. Opposition Congress has been claiming that the state facing instability due to the ill health of the ministers. It had also claimed that all is not well in the BJP-led coalition government and demanded a confidence vote in the Assembly.
Parrikar's poor health had sparked speculation over his continuation as the chief minister of Goa. However, BJP president Amit Shah said that Parrikar would remain in his post. Shah had recently sent three central leaders to the coastal state to speak to state BJP leaders and allies.
This is the second reshuffle of the Parrikar-led cabinet in about one-and-a-half years.
D'Souza was minister for the urban development and Madkaikar was the power minister. D'Souza is admitted at a hospital in the US while Madkaikar is undergoing treatment at a hospital in Mumbai since June after he suffered a brain stroke.
Naik, an MLA from Mormugao constituency in South Goa district, had earlier served as the power minister in the previous Laxmikant Parsekar-led cabinet.
Cabral, who represents the Curchorem constituency in South Goa district, is a first-time minister.
D'Souza expressed unhappiness over his removal from the state cabinet, wondering if this was the reward given to him by the party for his 20-year-long loyalty. The MLA, who got elected on the BJP ticket from Mapusa constituency in North Goa district for the past two decades, claimed he was not even taken into confidence before being dropped from the cabinet.
The state is being ruled by the BJP with the support of the Goa Forward Party (GFP), the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Independent MLAs.
The BJP has 14 seats in the 40-member Assembly, the GFP and the MGP have three each and the NCP has one. There are also three Independent legislators.
Parrikar and his nine ministers were sworn in on March 14, 2017. In April last year, Mauvin Godinho and Vishwajit Rane were inducted into the cabinet after they quit the Congress to join the BJP.