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‘Sawant will succeed me, ailing Parrikar whispered in my ear’
Panaji, Dec 12 (IANS) In a claim that is likely to raise eyebrows, Goa’s Ports Minister Michael Lobo on Thursday said that an ailing former Chief Minister late Manohar Parrikar had whispered the name of Pramod Sawant as his successor to him.
Lobo, a BJP MLA and a close political confidante of the former Union Defence Minister, said that Parrikar was hospitalised at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi and had named his successor in the presence of his personal aide Rupesh Kamat.
Describing one of his last meetings with Parrikar at the AIIMS (Lobo did not mention the exact date), Lobo said: "When I went to visit him (Parrikar) in hospital at AIIMS, I asked him, Sir, how do we keep our party intact and how do we take it ahead, without you’. He said Don’t worry Michael, I have trained all of you and your leader will be Pramod Sawant. He whispered in my ears. He told this when personal secretary Rupesh Kamat was present over there’.
"He told me Pramod Sawant will lead you all. You have to follow one leader. Like you have followed me, if you follow one leader, you will achieve the dreams which I have told you, which I have in my mind," Lobo said in the presence of Sawant at a function organised to inaugurate the "Manohar Parrikar Vidnyan Mahotsav" here.
Lobo’s assertion comes at a time when Sawant, who has emerged as a face of the Bahujan Samaj (a large non-Brahmin caste cluster), is staving off a challenge from the Gaud Saraswat Brahmin lobby in the state, which includes members of the BJP itself, especially the political and business clique considered close to Parrikar.
Lobo’s claim also questions the delay within the BJP to nominate Sawant as the political successor to Parrikar, who died in office on March 17 this year.
Explaining a day’s delay in the nomination of Sawant as Chief Minister, party officials had then maintained that the party High Command was considering several leaders for the position and that Sawant was not the only choice.
Lobo, however, insisted that Sawant, who was the Speaker of the state legislative assembly at the time, was Parrikar’s candidate for the job.
"Today, Pramod Sawant is showing us the way, which Manohar Parrikar had taught him. He (Parrikar) used to always guide him and guide all of us. Manohar bhai’s vision will see the light of day under the leadership of Pramod Sawant," Lobo said.