Amarinder Singh takes charge as Punjab CM, vows to end drug menace in 4 weeks
New Delhi: After steering the Congress to a stupendous victory, Amarinder Singh on Thursday took oath as Punjab chief minister. 75-year-old Amarinder was sworn in as the state’s 26th chief minister along with nine ministers, including Navjot Singh Sidhu.
Speculation was rife that the cricketer-turned politician would be given the post of deputy chief minister but he was the third among the list of nine ministers sworn in today.
Two Ministers of State - both women- were sworn in at the ceremony attended among others by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi.
The ceremony was held at the Raj Bhavan in Chandigarh and the oath was administered by Governor V P Singh Badnore.
Amarinder had announced that the oath taking ceremony would be a simple affair in view of the financial crisis facing the stage. This will be Amarinder’s second stint as chief minister.
Congress under the leadership of Amarinder had won 77 seats in the 117 member Assembly elections wresting power from the SAD-BJP alliance which was relegated to the third spot with 18 seats. New entrant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won 20 seats and two seats went to its ally Lok Insaaf Party.
Here are the latest updates and highlights:
■ 5.30pm: Chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh took charge of his new office at the Punjab Secretariat in Chandigarh amid multi-religious prayers. The second floor office of Punjab’s 26th chief minister reverberated with the chanting of sacred hymns from the Bhagwad Gita, the Guru Granth Sahib, the Quran and the Bible as he entered it along with several of his newly inducted ministerial colleagues, MLAs and associates.
After assuming charge, Amarinder said he was committed to fulfilling all his electoral promises and his government would take several important decisions at its first cabinet meeting scheduled on Saturday.
He reiterated his promise to constitute a Special Task Force (STF) to wipe out the drug menace from the state within four weeks, as promised in the Congress poll manifesto. (PTI)
■ 1.30pm: Newly inducted Punjab Cabinet minister Manpreet Singh Badal today said priority of the Captain Amarinder Singh-led Congress government will be to restore the “lost glory” of the state.
“Restoring Punjab’s lost glory is what we will work for,” Manpreet, the estranged nephew of ex-Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, told reporters in Chandigarh after taking oath as state cabinet minister. (PTI)
■ 1pm: Punjab CM Amarinder Singh responds to PM Narendra Modi’s tweet, says “thankyou @narendramodi ji for your good wishes.”
Earlier in the morning, the Aam Aadmi Party’s MLA HS Phoolka, who will be the leader of Opposition in the 15th Punjab Vidhan Sabha, tweeted about unavailability of seats at the swearing-in ceremony.
■ 11.30am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulates Amarinder Singh on taking over as Punjab chief minister, wishes him the best in working for state’s development. (PTI)
Congratulations @capt_amarinder on taking oath as CM. Wishing you the very best in working for Punjab"s development.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 16, 2017
■ 11am: Congress sources said that an expansion of the state cabinet would take place at a later date. The state can have a maximum of 18 ministers including the Chief Minister. The Congress has 77 MLAs in the assembly. (PTI)
■ 10.40am: Following MLAs have took oath as Cabinet ministers in Amarinder Singh cabinet—Braham Mohindra (Patiala Rural), Navjot Singh Sidhu (Amritsar East), Manpreet Singh Badal (Bathinda Urban), Sadhu Singh Dharmsot (Nabha), Tript Tajinder Singh Bajwa (Fatehgarh Churian), Rana Gurjit Singh (Kapurthala), Charanjit Singh Channi (Chamkaur Sahib).
Aruna Chaudhary (Dina Nagar) and Razia Sultana (Malerkotla) will be ministers of state.
■ 10.30am: The swearing-in ceremony has been kept simple as Captain Amarinder Singh wanted it to be a low key affair. The Punjab government’s debt exceeds Rs1.25 trillion.
Also read | The Congress party’s long twilight
■ 10.20am: Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore administers the oath of office to Captain Amarinder Singh as Punjab’s 28th chief minister, his second stint in the office. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh are attending the ceremony along with several other senior Congress leaders such as Pawan Bansal, Raj Babbar, Kapil Sibal, former Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda. (CNN-News18)
■ 10.05am: According to CNN-News18, Sidhu unlikely to get the post of deputy chief minister. “Can’t have dual power centres,” says Amarinder Singh.
■ 9.45am: According to Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee’s letter to the Raj Bhawan, seven cabinet ministers and two ministers of state will be administered the oath of office along with the CM. (Hindustan Times)