Manmohan sworn in

His cabinet includes 28 Cabinet ministers, 39 Ministers of State, ten having independent charge.
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Published on May 22, 2004 08:52 PM IST
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PTI | ByReuters, New Delhi

Manmohan Singh was on Saturday sworn in as the Prime Minister at the head of a 67-member first-ever Congress-led coalition Government that has 28 Cabinet Ministers, including 18 from Congress, and 39 Ministers of State, with ten of them having independent charge.

Among the Congress veterans who found their way back into the Ministry were Pranab Mukherjee, Arjun singh, K Natwar Singh, Ghulam Nabi Azad, PR Dasmunsi, Shankersinh Vaghela, PM Sayeed and HR Bhardwaj.

NCP Chief Sharad Pawar, RJD President Laloo Prasad Yadav and his senior colleague Raghuvansh Prsasad Singh, LJP President Ram Vilas Paswan, JMM Chief Shibu Soren and TRS Chief K Chandrashekhar Rao were also inducted into the Cabinet.

President APJ  Abdul Kalam administered the oath of office and secrecy to the new incumbents at a function at the Ashoka Hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan.

DMK leaders who got Cabient berths were TR Balu, Dayanidhi Maran and A Raja. PMK Chief S Ramadoss' son Ambumani Ramadoss also made it to the Cabinet.

Other Congress leaders who got into the Cabinet were: Kamal Nath, S Jaipal Reddy, Shish Ram Ola, P Chidamabaram, Mahavir Prasad, PR Kyndiah, Mani Shankar Aiyer, Sunil Dutt and Meira Kumar.

A surprise inclusion in the Cabinet were that of former Lok Sabha Speaker Shivraj Patil and former Deputy Speaker PM Sayeed both of whom were defeated in the recent Lok Sabha polls.

Clad in white kurta pyjama and his trade mark blue turban, 71 year old Singh took the oath of office and secrecy in English. The oath was administered by President APJ Abdul Kalam in the Ashoka Hall of Rashtrapati Bhawan.

Members of his family were present in full strength to witness the momentous occasion when India's first Sikh prime minister took oath.

Among those present were his predecessor Atal Bihari Vajpayee, whose coalition suffered a shock defeat in the April-May national elections.

Vajpayee joins the club of former premiers who attended the function - IK Gujral, PV Narasimha Rao, VP Singh, Chandra Shekhar and HD Deve Gowda.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who renounced the post of prime minister amid a shrill campaign against her foreign origin, also looked on, attired in a formal white sari with a black border.

Sonia's children Rahul and Priyanka and her husband Robert Vadra also attended the ceremony.

The Congress party returns to power after  nine years but at the head of a coalition government for the first time.

Other outgoing ministers present swearing in included Vajpayee's deputy LK Advani, seated right next to Narasimha Rao and two seats from Sonia Gandhi.

Singh, an economist, kicked off country's economic reform drive more than a decade ago.

He was designated Prime Minister this week after Sonia Gandhi, who had led her Congress party to a shock election win, declined to take the job.

The Congress party has had to put together a coalition government for the first time.

It had to resolve a row, which erupted with powerful allies like RJD over the distribution of ministerial positions.

At least 18 regional, parties have pledged their support to a Congress-led coalition.

Markets have focused on Singh's choice for finance minister. Singh, who held the post himself in the early 1990s, had been favourite until Gandhi's withdrawal catapulted him to the top job.

Media reports said Singh might keep charge of the Finance Ministry until presentation of the annual budget, due by July.

Other contenders for the portfolio are Pranab Mukherjee and P Chidambaram, who have both done the job in the past and are respected in the market.

Other key posts include the Home and the External Affairs ministry.

Mukherjee has been offered the Home ministry by Congress and Natwar Singh, a one-time ambassador to Pakistan, is likely to get External Affairs.

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