Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury at the swearing-in ceremony of Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow. PTI Photo/Nand Kumar
Akhilesh Yadav, credited with turning around the fortunes of the Samajwadi Party and helping it secure absolute majority, was on Thursday sworn in as Uttar Pradesh's youngest chief minister.
Governor BL Joshi administered the oath of the office to the 38-year-old engineering graduate and his 48-member ministerial team, six of who face serious criminal charges.
Inclusion of independent MLA Raghuraj Pratap Singh, or Raja Bhaiya, wasn't unexpected but did raise eyebrows. The cabinet minister has eight criminal cases, including attempt to murder, pending against him.
While campaigning and after the win, Yadav promised to wipe clean the 'goonda raj' tag the party had earned during its previous stint at the helm of the country's most populous state.
Asked about Raja Bhaiya's induction, Yadav said cases against him were politically motivated.
"You know who had slapped maximum cases against Raja Bhaiya. If you check the dates of cases lodged against him, you will know who is behind them," he said in an apparent reference to his predecessor Mayawati.
As expected, senior party leaders Azam Khan and Shiv Pal Singh Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav's uncle, were among the 19 sworn in as cabinet ministers.
Ten of Yadav's ministers are from the Muslim community, whose support is vital to the party. Only one woman, Aruna Kori, made the cut.
Parkash Singh Badal, sworn in as the chief minister of Punjab for the fifth time on March 14, former Haryana CM Om Prakash Chautala, industrialists Anil Ambani and Subrato Roy Sahara, CPM leaders Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury and actor Jaya Bachchan were among those who attended the ceremony at the grounds of La Martiniere College.
Parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Kumar Bansal represented the Centre, while Trinamool Congress sent in general secretary Sultan Ahmad.
The ceremony saw some chaos as well, forcing Yadav and Azam Khan to tell off "enthusiastic" party workers.
(With agency inputs)