Congress leader Virbhadra Singh, 78, was sworn in as chief minister of Himachal Pradesh for a record sixth time on Tuesday. Governor Urmila Singh administered the oath of office.
Singh had assumed office for the first time on April 8, 1983, replacing Thakur Ram Lal.
Breaking with tradition, this was the first time the council of ministers was also administered oath on the historic ridge – the only promenade from the days of the British Raj. Nine ministers were sworn in.
The oath ceremony, which began at 10.45am, was attended by thousands of supporters. The ridge wore a festive look, with people sporting green Himachali caps. Four display screens were erected around the town to air the ceremony.
The opposition BJP, though, boycotted the ceremony.
Octogenarian leader Vidya Stokes was the first to be sworn in after Singh. The others were former Congress president Kaul Singh Thakur, former transport minister GS Bali, Sujan Singh Pathania, Thakur Singh Bharmouri, Mukesh Agnihotri from Haroli, Sudhir Sharma from Dharamsala in Kangra, Prakash Chaudhary from Balh in Mandi and Dhani Ram Shandil from Solan.
After the ceremony, Singh drove to the state secretariat.
Two vacancies in the new cabinet will soon be filled and a new president of the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee appointed, said Singh, who will resign the post and his Lok Sabha membership.
Soon after assuming power, the Congress government decided to terminate all extensions and re-employments of government employees and review all decisions by the erstwhile BJP government over the last six months.
The government also decided to withdraw all criminal cases registered on political grounds and in connection with political agitations where no violence or damage was involved.