Senior Congress leader Ashok Gehlot took oath as the Rajasthan chief minister on Monday while state party chief Sachin Pilot was appointed as his deputy in a ceremony that turned into a show of strength for Opposition unity.
Governor Kalyan Singh administered an oath of office to Gehlot at the historic Albert Hall here. Pilot took oath as a minister and was subsequently appointed as the deputy chief minister by the governor in the presence of a large number of leaders from various political parties.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, outgoing chief minister Vasundhara Raje attended the event.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) supremo and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, National Conference president Farooq Abdullah and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav were also present.
Janata Dal (Secular) president and former prime minister H D Deve Gowda, Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha’s (JMM’s) Hemant Soren, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM) leader Babulal Marandi were among others who attended the event
DMK president M K Stalin, who had on Sunday proposed the name of Gandhi as the prime ministerial candidate of the proposed anti-BJP front, was also there at the ceremony.
Gehlot has become the fourth leader to hold the chief minister’s post for the third time. The Congress leader became the chief minister for the first time in 1998 and held the post again in 2008.
Pilot was wearing a ‘safa’ or a traditional turban as a mark of victory of the Congress in the state. The state Congress president had pledged in 2014 to not wear the traditional headgear till the party returns to power.
The venue was overcrowded and a large number of supporters of both Pilot and Gehlot gathered at the event. Several MLAs and senior leaders were seen jostling to reach their place where seating arrangements were made for them.
Senior Congress leader and MLA B D Kalla, Independent MLA Babu Lal Nagar, who had turned rebel after being denied ticket by the Congress, were among others who were stuck in the crowd before they could reach their place.
Enthusiastic party workers shouted slogans in support of both Gehlot and Pilot and climbed on to chairs to have the glimpse of the event.
Prior to the oath ceremony, Gehlot and Pilot and other leaders welcomed Gandhi, Manmohan Singh and others at the Jaipur airport, from where they left to the Albert Hall, an iconic structure located in the heart of the city.
This is for the first time that the oath-taking ceremony of the chief minister took place at the hall. Traditionally, such ceremonies are held at Raj Bhawan. Raje, however, had taken oath outside the Assembly building in 2003 and 2013.
Elaborate security arrangements were made for the ceremony and there was a seating arrangement of nearly 11,000 people. Traffic congestion was witnessed on JLN Road, Tonk Road and other roads during the event. PTI