Grand swearing-in for Narendra Modi and team
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Grand swearing-in for Narendra Modi and team

Narendra Modi, the architect of BJP's landslide victory in Gujarat polls, was today sworn in as Chief Minister.

india Updated: Dec 23, 2002 00:14 IST

Narendra Modi was sworn in as Chief Minister of Gujarat for a second time at a large ceremony at the Sardar Patel Stadium here on Sunday. The opposition Congress abstained from the ceremony to protest the extravagance despite the economic crisis in the state.

Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee, Deputy PM L.K. Advani, several chief ministers including J. Jayalalitha, Om Prakash Chautala, Babulal Marandi and Manohar Parikkar were present at the ceremony.

Even though BJP leaders like party president Venkaiah Naidu, Murli Manohar Joshi, Arun Jaitley, Ramdas Agarwal were present, Muslim leaders of the party were conspicuous by their absence. Industrialists, including Anil Ambani of the Reliance group, television and cinema personalities and priests of the Akshardham temple also attended the swearing-in.

The ceremony was a grand affair, with the stadium galleries bedecked with party flags, and over a lakh people attending.

Though the Congress Legislature Party leader and other legislators were invited to the function, 51 Opposition MLAs boycotted the ceremony. They felt, in view of the drought-affected condition of the state, the expense was unnecessary. A BJP spokesman said the only expense had been the chairs and the stage, and that the ceremony was held in Ahmedabad to save the cost of travel to Gandhinagar.

Along with Modi, nine ministers of Cabinet rank and six ministers of state were sworn in on Sunday. Portfolios are likely to be announced on Monday.

Former finance minister Vajubhai Vala, who was dropped by Modi in October last year but vacated his Rajkot II seat for the Chief Minister later, has now returned to the state Cabinet.

Ashok Bhatt, Narottam Patel, Anandiben Patel, Kaushik Patel, I.K. Jadeja, Dilipsinh Thakore and Ramanbhai Vora are the other former ministers who were sworn in. Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, Saurabh Dalal, Amit Shah and Anil Patel are the new entrants to the ministry.

In his attempt to strike a regional balance in the ministry, Modi has inducted three ministers from north Gujarat where the party lost ground this time, and only two have been taken from south Gujarat. Central Gujarat region, including Ahmedabad district, has been heavily represented. Seven ministers, including Modi himself, have been inducted into the ministry from central Gujarat, and five of them belong to Ahmedabad district.

The earthquake-hit Kutch district, comprising nearly one-fourth geographical area of the state, has been totally left out of the ministry. Of the six seats in Kutch, the BJP could win only two as stalwarts Suresh Mehta and Dhirubhai Shah lost their traditional constituencies.

Saurashtra, where many of the party's ministers lost this time, has four ministers in the ministry, including Jadeja and Vala.

In a bid to keep former chief minister Keshubhai Patel in good humour, Modi has inducted five Patels in his ministry. Token representation has been given to major castes like Brahmins, SCs, STs and OBCs.

First Published: Dec 22, 2002 14:07 IST