Amid a wave of ‘basanti’ and chants of ‘Rang de Basanti’, a revolutionary song, AAP leader and Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, who donned his traditional ‘basanti’ turban, took oath of office on Wednesday in this village of legendary freedom fighter Bhagat Singh, who laid down his life for the country’s Independence, amidst a mass gathering of some 400,000 audience.
He ended the oath that he took in Hindi with slogan ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ or ‘Long live the revolution’.
Mann, a former comedian, 48, replacing Congress’ Charanjit Channi as the Chief Minister, became Punjab’s youngest CM in nearly four decades. He resigned as the Lok Sabha MP from Sangrur on Tuesday. He was the lone AAP MP from the state.
Governor Banwarilal Purohit administered the oath of office and secrecy to Mann as the 17th Chief Minister. After the oath-taking, which was delayed by an hour, Mann in his address said he along with all the residents of the state also took oath as Chief Ministers. “You all will be the Chief Ministers,” he said.
He said the work would start today itself. “We are already very late. We are late by 70 years. People from all over India come to Delhi to see schools and ‘mohalla’ clinics, foreigners would come to Punjab and click photos,” he said.
Paying tribute to Bhagat Singh, Mann said, “Bhagat Singh was not just concerned about India getting its freedom but also the hands the country will go into once it is free. His concerns were valid. We are going abroad to those from whom we took our freedom. We will stay in our country and work for its betterment,” he said.
Marking a compassionate appeal to people, he said solutions to all problems — from unemployment to farming to business to schools — will be found.
Reciting a verse by Bhagat Singh, Mann said, “It is everyone’s birthright to love, why not make the soil of my nation my lover?”
Cutting across party lines, Mann said, “It will take many lives to pay back the love we have got from you. We are also the government for those who didn’t vote for us and we will work for them too.”
Before concluding his 15-minute speech, Mann said, “Hukumat vo karte hain jinka dilon par raj hota hai, yu kehne ko murge ke sar pe bhi taaj hota hai (The ones who rule are those who rule hearts, crowns even rest on rooster’s head).”
The newly elected legislators will be administered oath during the one-day Vidhan Sabha session to be held in the state capital on Thursday.
However, Mann’s cabinet will take oath on Saturday at the Raj Bhavan in Chandigarh.
Harpal Cheema, Aman Arora, Baljinder Kaur, Meet Hayer, Sarvjeet Kaur Manuke and Budh Ram, all second-time legislators, are likely on the list of Mann’s cabinet.
At the oath-taking venue, three podiums were set up on the stage. While the Governor and Mann were on the central podium, the second was occupied by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his cabinet, and the third by AAP’s 91 legislators.
“The golden ray of sun has brought a new dawn on Wednesday,” said Mann, who arrived at the venue about 45 minutes behind the scheduled time of swearing-in ceremony which was 12.30 pm, ahead of taking oath.
In a tweet, Mann said, “The golden ray of sun has brought a new dawn today. To realize the dreams of Shaheed Bhagat Singh and Baba Saheb, the whole of Punjab will take oath today at Khatkar Kalan.”
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is all set to herald a new ‘Inquilab’ or revolutionary spirit, this is what the party that came to power in Punjab by sweeping the assembly polls with a three-fourth majority is indicating by holding the oath-taking ceremony in Khatkar Kalan.
After the landslide victory on March 10, Mann, who won the Dhuri seat with a margin of 58,206 votes, said during the Congress-Akali Dal governments, decisions regarding Punjab used to be taken in Moti Mahal, Siswan farm house and big ‘havelis’.
“Now the government of Punjab will run from villages and mohallas.”
“Earlier, Chief Ministers of Punjab used to take oath at the Raj Bhavan. I will take oath as Chief Minister at the village of Bhagat Singh, Khatkar Kalan,” he had added.
The BJP has also made efforts to invoke the legendry freedom fighter Bhagat Singh.
In 2015, donning ‘basanti’ turban, Narendra Modi became the second prime minister to visit Hussainiwala in Punjab’s Ferozepur district.
Hussainiwala is the place where the last rites of the three freedom fighters — Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru, were held after they were hanged in Lahore on March 23, 1931.