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Bobby Jindal sworn in as Louisiana governor

Republican Bobby Jindal has been sworn in as governor of Louisiana to become the first Indian-American elected head of a US state.

india Updated: Jan 15, 2008 03:04 IST

Republican Bobby Jindal was sworn in on Monday as governor of Louisiana to become the first Indian-American elected head of a US state.

The Oxford-educated conservative vowed in a speech at the state capitol to clean up Louisiana's notorious political corruption and to speed up the state's recovery from hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

"In our past, too many of our politicians looked out for themselves," said Jindal, who is the state's first non-white governor since Reconstruction in the 1870s. "We must win a war on corruption and incompetence in government."

Jindal, 36, was in his second term as a US congressman when won the governorship in an October election in his second try for the office.

Democrat Kathleen Blanco defeated Jindal in the 2003 gubernatorial race, but did not seek a second term when her support plummeted after the government's stumbling rescue and recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina.

The storm flooded most of New Orleans, where hundreds died and chaos broke out as stranded flood victims waited days for help. Many residents who fled Katrina have not returned.

Jindal urged storm exiles to return home and "make Louisiana's rebirth your own priority."

He said the hurricanes provided a chance to build a better Louisiana.

Our economy was behind before the storms. And now, for reasons beyond our earthly comprehension, this opportunity, this mandate, has been placed on our generation."

Jindal is the first Indian-American elected governor of a US state, but another, Kris Kolluri, served as governor for a day in New Jersey in 2006 when Gov. Jon Corzine was away.

Jindal, who first name is Piyush, is the son of well-educated Indians who emigrated to Baton Rouge shortly before he was born.

He converted to Catholicism from his parents' Hindu faith and frequently cites his Christian beliefs.

"Praise be to almighty God," he said at the start of Monday's speech.

Jindal's rise in state politics began at the age of 24 when he was selected by then-Gov. Mike Foster to head the state's Department of Health and Hospitals.

He served in several government positions and, after his unsuccessful run for governor, won a seat in the US House of Representatives in 2004, taking over the office vacated when David Vitter was elected to the Senate.