Amarinder Singh, a former army captain who fought the 1965 Indo-Pak war, took over as Punjab’s 26th chief minister on Thursday, and will face one of his tougher battles as he gets down to running a state riddled with multiple problems.
Singh – who led the Congress to a spectacular victory over the ruling SAD-BJP alliance – was administered the oath of office by Punjab governor VP Singh Badnore at a simple function at the Raj Bhawan.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh attended the ceremony, signifying how important the victory in Punjab was for the party that was ousted from power in two other states – Uttarakhand and Manipur.
For Amarinder Singh, a member of the royal family of Patiala, it is his second stint at the helm of the state.
Six-time MLA, Brahm Mohindra, the senior-most along with Amarinder, and cricket-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu – both from Patiala – were also sworn in.
Sidhu’s political innings had started from Amritsar with the BJP before he switch to the Congress ahead of the assembly polls.
While Amarinder took the oath in English, Mohindra spoke in Hindi and Sidhu in Punjabi.
Manpreet Badal, the estranged nephew of former CM Parkash Singh Badal was fourth in line. Both Manpreet and Sidhu went to Rahul and Manmohan after taking the oath, to seek their blessings.
Five other ministers and two ministers of state, both women, were also administered oath in the council of ministers, including Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Rana Gurjit Singh and former leader of opposition, Charanjit Singh Channi. The only two women MLAs, Aruna Chaudhary and Razia Sultana, were sworn in as ministers of state with independent charge.
Punjab chief secretary Sarvesh Kaushal conducted the ceremony, which was attended by a host of prominent political and other dignitaries, including Himachal Pradesh CM Virbhadra Singh, former Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, former Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda, former Punjab CM Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and MP Sachin Pilot, UP Congress chief Raj Babbar, Haryana Congress chief Ashok Tanwar and Delhi Congress leader Ajay Maken.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had called up Captain Amarinder on the day of the declaration of the results, took to Twitter to congratulate the new Punjab CM, wishing him “the very best in working for Punjab’s development.” Amarinder tweeted his thanks in response.
Congratulations @capt_amarinder on taking oath as CM. Wishing you the very best in working for Punjab’s development.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 16, 2017