February 28, 2002, Chandigarh, India
Amarinder takes oath amid
Chandigarh, February 27
The Punjab Governor, Lt-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), administered the oath of office and secrecy to the Leader of the Congress Legislature Party. Dressed in white churridar pyjama and shirt and sporting a light brown turban, the Captain was profusely garlanded by an unending rush of his supporters, including party workers, leaders and legislators. He, thus, becomes the first man from the erstwhile princely family of Patiala to head the government in the state.
Special guests at the swearing-in ceremony were a former Union Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr K. Natwar Singh, and the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, Mr Ajit Jogi.
While the AICC observers, including Mr Moti Lal Vora, Mr Ahmed Patel and Mr Hari Prasad, left for the Union Capital before the ceremony, Mrs Ambika Soni joined other party leaders at the function. Leaders of other political parties, including the Shiromani Akali Dal, the Panthic Morcha, the Bharatiya Janata Party, the CPM, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Bahujan Samaj Morcha and the Lok Bhalai Party were conspicuous by their absence at the ceremony. Only Dr Joginder Dyal (CPI) attended the ceremony.
Marred by overenthusiasm of Congress workers and party leaders, the swearing-in ceremony witnessed some chaotic scenes, leading to the death by heart attack of Mr Kirpal Singh Makha, a former Minister of State, on the lawns of Raj Bhavan. Later, the Chief Minister not only mourned the death of Mr Makha but also ordered a state funeral for him in his native village in Bathinda district and deputed an officer of therank of Financial Commissioner to represent the state government at his funeral.
Though sources at Raj Bhavan said that only 2,500 guests were invited to witness the swearing-in ceremony, around 5,500 persons were present when the ceremony took place. There were unruly scenes as many of the invitees could not get seats.
Mrs Parneet Kaur, MP and wife of the new Chief Minister, along with the AICC observer, Mrs Ambika Soni, former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal some party MPs, including Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, and MLAs had to squat on the durries in front of the dais. Even Raja Malvendra Singh, cousin of the Captain, had to stand at the back as the family enclosure meant for the immediate family members of the Chief Minister was overflowing with "outsiders".
Talking to newsmen after the ceremony, the Chief Minister said that he would go to the Golden Temple and the Durgiana Mandir in Amritsar tomorrow to offer prayers before visiting New Delhi to consult the party high command on the composition of his Council of Ministers.
He said that his taking over as the Chief Minister was a new beginning for the Congress in the state and his government would fulfil all promises it had made to the people of Punjab in its election manifesto.
"Cleansing Punjab" of corrupt people, both politicians and bureaucrats, would be the first major task of his government for which he would request the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to spare a sitting Judge, with powers to punish the guilty, for the judicial commission.
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