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Sarbananda Sonowal sworn in as Assam’s first BJP chief minister

mumbai Updated: May 25, 2016 08:07 IST

GUWAHATI: Union sports minister Sarbananda Sonowal took oath as Assam’s 14th chief minister on Tuesday in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his cabinet colleagues and BJP president Amit Shah.

Ass am governor PB Acharya administered t he oath at 4.25pm, five minutes after Modi arrived at the expansive Khanapara ground on the southern end of Guwahati.

Ten other ministers were also sworn in, including two each from BJP allies Asom Gana Parishad ( AGP) and Bodoland People’s Front (BPF).

“A great responsibility has been bestowed upon us. We will try to do justice to it,” said Sonowal, a 54- year- old bachelor and former student leader.

He replaced Tarun Gogoi of the Congress who ruled for three consecutive terms. Before Gogoi, Hiteswar Saikia of the Congress and Prafulla Kumar Mahanta of the AGP held the post twice.

Gogoi, whom Sonowal had invited specially, shared the dais with Modi and other dignitaries.

The first of the ministers to take oath was Himanta Biswa Sarma, widely believed to have plotted Gogoi’s exit after quitting the Congress and joining the BJP in August 2015. He accompanied Shah to the Kamakhya temple earlier in the day.

Modi became the first Prime Minister to attend the swearingin of an Assam chief minister or any of the other seven northeastern states.

“I am grateful to the people of Assam for giving Sarbananda and his ministers the opportunity to serve them,” Modi said, assuring the Centre’s commitment for the development of Assam and t he Northeast.

At least 10 of his cabinet colleagues, including home minister Rajnath Singh and road transport minister Nitik Gadkari, attended the event.

Yoga guru Baba Ramdev, criticised by the ULFA separatist group for a land deal for his Patanjali plant in western Assam, did not turn up. Neither did Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Both were invited.

First Published: May 25, 2016 08:07 IST