M A I N   N E W S

Hooda takes oath as Haryana CM
Bhajan Lal attends function
Tribune News Service

Mr Bhajan Lal with security guards at Haryana Raj Bhavan during the swearing-in ceremony of Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda in Chandigarh on Saturday.
Mr Bhajan Lal with security guards at Haryana Raj Bhavan during the swearing-in ceremony of Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda in Chandigarh on Saturday. — Tribune photo by Manoj Mahajan

Chandigarh, March 5
Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, MP from the Rohtak constituency, was sworn in as the 19th Chief Minister of Haryana by the Governor, Mr A.R. Kidwai, at a crowded function held on the lawns of Raj Bhavan here today. Mr Hooda is expected to constitute his Council of Ministers at a later date.

The Congress high command ensured that the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) did not look like a fractured outfit at the oath ceremony.

Mr Bhajan Lal, who yesterday appeared all set to revolt against the party’s Central leadership for choosing Mr Hooda as the Chief Minister, attended the function as did his MLA son, Mr Chander Mohan.

The party’s Central observers — Mr P M Sayeed, Union Energy Minister and Mr Ashok Gehlot, AICC General Secretary — and Mr Janardhan Dwivedi, AICC General Secretary and in charge of the party’s Haryana affairs, also attended the function as the high command’s representatives.

Mr Hooda’s father, Mr Ranbir Singh, one of the oldest surviving freedom fighters, who was also a member of the Constituent Assembly, sat on the dais. Mr Hooda touched his feet before he took the oath as Chief Minister. Mr Hooda’s wife, Ms Asha Hooda, and some other ladies of the Hooda family also sat on the podium when Mr Hooda was sworn in.

Neither Mr Hooda’s predecessor, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, nor any of the other Opposition MLAs took part in the function.

A massive crowd had gathered at Raj Bhavan to watch the ceremony. People even climbed atop trees of Raj Bhavan to get a clear view of the function.

Outside, it was utter chaos as a huge crowd jostled with the police to gather entry into Raj Bhavan. The UT police, which was deployed around the Governor’s residence had a tough time keeping the crowd in check. There was heavy pushing and jostling and a number of Haryana IAS and IPS officers had a taste of police shoving as they tried to reach Raj Bhavan to attend the oath ceremony.

A screen was set up outside to enable the crowd to see the ceremony live. But it did not stop people from trying to enter Raj Bhavan. People with legitimate passes, including Press reporters, got caught in the melee and could enter the Raj Bhavan only after much effort.

Tea was served at one side of the lawn and Press reporters kept waiting for the CM there after the oath ceremony. However, probably fearing that he would be mobbed by the crowd, Mr Hooda did not show up.

Earlier speaking to reporters at a hotel, where Mr Hooda made a brief halt before leaving for Raj Bhavan, he said his first priority as Chief Minister would be to improve the law and order situation in the state and take action against criminal elements who had been operating in the state with impunity.

He said allegations of corrupt practices by the previous regime would be enquired into. He, however, added he would not take any action against former Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala simply out of vindictiveness.

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