Guwahati, May 24 (IANS) Sarbananda Sonowal was on Tuesday sworn in as the first BJP chief minister of Assam at a massive public meeting that was also attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his senior cabinet and party colleagues.
Sonowal, 53, took the oath along with Himanta Biswa Sarma, the former Congress strongman who crossed over to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) last year and is largely credited for its huge electoral victory that dislodged 15 years of the Congress rule in the northeastern state.
Assam Governor P.B. Acharya administered the oath of office and secrecy to Sonowal, formerly minister of state for youth affairs and sports at the centre, and his council of ministers.
Modi addressed the gathering after the oath ceremony which turned into the BJP’s show of strength on the first days of its first government in the state.
“Our job doesn’t end at voting. For development it is important the people work with the government together,” Modi said.
The prime minister promised that the central “will always try to stay ahead, even if by a step, than the Assam government” for the development of the state.
The ceremony, also attended by BJP president Amit Shah and veteran leader L. K. Advani, was held at the sprawling Khanapara rally ground in the city that was turned saffron with BJP flags fluttering all over.
Also present at the event were the chief ministers of the BJP-ruled states and leaders of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Chief ministers of other northeastern states also participated.
Former chief minister Tarun Gogoi, who headed the state 15-year Congress rule before Sonowal dethroned him, also attended the gala event.
Leaders who took oath as cabinet ministers included BJP’s Parimal Shuklabaidya, Chandra Mohan Patowary and Ranjit Dutta.
Atul Bora and Keshav Mahanta from the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), Pramila Rani Baishya and Rihan Daimary of the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) also took oath as cabinet ministers.
Two BJP legislatorsa Nab Doley and Pallab Lochan Das were sworn-in as as minister of state with independent charges.
Most of the leaders, including Sonowal, took the oath in Assamese. But BPF leaders Pramila Rani Brahma and Rihan Daimary took the oath in their native Bodo language.