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Parkash Singh Badal, 17 Ministers sworn in

Saturday 3 March 2007

Staff Correspondent

BJP gets five berths; no Deputy CM post

Ministers’ portfolios to be announced early next week Akali, BJP functionaries had free access to the stage

CHANDIGARH: Punjab Governor S.F. Rodrigues administered the oath of office and secrecy to the new Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal, and 17 ministers at the PCA cricket stadium at Mohali, near here, on Friday. Amid loud cheers, Mr. Badal took the oath of office in chaste Punjabi.

Portfolios of the Ministers are expected to be announced early next week after they return from Amritsar, where they will worship at the Golden Temple and the Durgiana Mandir and visit Jallianwala Bagh on Saturday. They are scheduled to participate in Hola Mohalla celebrations at Anandpur Sahib as well.

Chief Secretary K.R. Lakhanpal conducted the proceedings in an informal setting. Akali and BJP functionaries as well as members of their families, including children, had free access to the stage, while chaos prevailed at the stadium.

At one stage, Akali Dal general secretary Kanwaljit Singh rebuked civil and police officers for not controlling the situation and showing disrespect to the elected representatives, who had to sit on the ground for lack of chairs in the VVIP enclosure. Top leaders, former Union Ministers and senior officers of the Punjab government were pushed around. Some of them, who found it difficult to gain access, decided to go back without attending the ceremony.

The dignitaries who attended the function included the former Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani; BJP president Rajnath Singh; the Chief Ministers of Gujarat, Bihar and Rajasthan Narendra Modi, Nitish Kumar and Vasundhara Raje; the former Union Ministers George Fernandes and Omar Abdullah; and the former Chief Ministers of Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir Om Prakash Chautala and Farooq Abdullah.

Manoranjan Kalia, Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Tikshan Sud, Upinderjit Kaur, Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, Chaudhary Swarna Ram, Sucha Singh Langah, Laxmi Kanta Chawla, Ajit Singh Kohar, Manpreet Singh Badal, Master Mohan Lal, Janmeja Singh Sekhon, Gulzar Singh Ranike, Parminder Singh Dhindsa, Bikram Singh Majithia and Hira Singh Gabria were sworn in Cabinet Ministers. Ms. Chawla was the lone Minister who took the oath in Hindi and the others preferred Punjabi.

For all speculation, no BJP legislator was given the post of Deputy Chief Minister. The party got five ministerial berths.

While the BJP Ministers touched the feet of Mr. Advani after having been sworn in, the Akali ministers bowed and shook hands with Mr. Badal.

They received a hug from the Chief Minister’s son and party general secretary Sukhbir Singh and the cricketer-turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu of the BJP, who was re-elected from Amritsar in the Lok Sabha by-election.

Landing and takeoff of aircraft from the nearby Chandigarh airport, disrupted oath taking by Mr. Badal, Capt. Kanwaljit Singh, Mr. Kohar and Master Mohan Lal. Chaudhary Swarna Ram and Mr. Manpreet Singh began reading out the oath even before the Governor did so.

See online : The Hindu

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