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CHANGE OF GUARD: Oommen Chandy assumes office as Kerala Chief Minister at the Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Congress Legislature Party leader Oommen Chandy was sworn in as Kerala's 21st Chief Minister on Wednesday.
Governor R.S. Gavai administered him the oath of office and secrecy, in the presence of several political personalities, including senior Opposition leaders.
Mr. Gavai also administered the oath to six leaders of various constituents of the United Democratic Front. The oaths were administered according to the pecking order in the UDF, on the basis of the strengths of the coalition partners.
Indian Union Muslim League leader P.K. Kunhalikutty was the first among the Ministers-designate to take the oath, followed by Kerala Congress (M) leader K.M. Mani, Socialist Janata (Democratic) leader K.P. Mohanan, Kerala Congress (Jacob) leader T.M. Jacob, Kerala Congress (B) leader K.B. Ganesh Kumar and Revolutionary Socialist Party (Baby John) leader Shibu Baby John.
All Ministers took their oaths in the name of God, except Mr. Baby John who took the solemn oath.
The ceremony was held in a specially made shamiana on the Raj Bhavan grounds.
The special security arrangements did not dampen the enthusiasm of the thousands of people gathered in and outside the Raj Bhavan. The family members of the Chief Minister and other Ministers were present. Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala; Union Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahmed; Union Minister of State for Home Mullapally Ramachandran; the former Chief Minister, V.S. Achuthanandan; CPI (M) leaders Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, M. Vijaya Kumar, M.A. Baby, T.M. Thomas Issac, S. Sharma, and Ramachandran Kadanapally were among the prominent persons who were present.
The UDF MLAs were also present. The absence of representatives of the All-India Congress Committee was conspicuous. This is the second term for Mr. Chandy: he had had a brief stint midway during the previous UDF rule. Besides Mr. Chandy, Mr. Kunhalikutty, Mr. Mani and Mr. Jacob are seasoned leaders and have been members of the earlier UDF Ministries. Mr. Mohanan and Mr. Baby John are first-time Ministers, both sons of former ministers who had proved their mettle in Kerala politics. Mr. Mohanan is the son of the late socialist leader, P.R. Kurup, while Mr. Shibu Baby John is the son of the late RSP leader, Baby John. Mr. Ganesh Kumar, son of Kerala Congress (B) leader R. Balakrishna Pillai, was a minister in the Antony Cabinet for a brief period from 2001-03.
After the ceremony, the Governor hosted a high tea for the new Cabinet before the members left for the first Cabinet meeting.
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