Sarbananda Sonowal sworn-in as Assam chief minister in grand ceremony

Sarbananda Sonowal was on Tuesday sworn-in as the first Bharatiya Janata Party chief minister of Assam at a gala event in Guwahati attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his senior cabinet colleagues and tens of thousands of BJP supporters.

Sonowal, 53, took oath along with Himanta Biswa Sarma, the former Congress strongman who crossed over to the BJP last year and is largely credited for the BJP's massive electoral victory in the northeastern state.

The ceremony, also attended by BJP president Amit Shah, was held at the sprawling Khanapara rally ground in the city that was turned saffron with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) flags fluttering all over.

Image courtesy: Twitter/ANI

Image courtesy: Twitter/ANI

The ground was prepared to accommodate at least one lakh people. Before the oath-taking ceremony, a cultural event of Assamese music and dance took place.

As the crowd shouted the by-now familiar chants of "Modi, Modi," the Prime Minster addressed the gathering, saying, "The people of Assam have voted for Assam and Sonowal is the perfect person to lead the state...Sonowal will leave no stone unturned to change the destiny of Assam."

In his first speech as chief minister, Sonowal said that it was a historic moment for the BJP, and said that he would work for the people of Assam.

The BJP made history in the recently-concluded assembly elections, as it clinched power in Assam for the first time. Assam was a Congress bastion with party veteran Tarun Gogoi ruling the state since 2001. The BJP in the state swept the polls by winning 60 seats in the Assembly.

With this massive electoral success, it was no surprise that the BJP made its leader Sarbananda Sonowal's swearing-in as a gala event. In the run-up to the elections, PM Modi had campaigned extensively in the northeastern state, saying that the Congress government was run by a "remote control."  Party leaders had made illegal migration a major issue during campaigning. Given this background, the Assam elections were a prestige issue for the saffron party.

Sonowal, on Sunday, met Assam Governor PB Acharya and staked claim to forming the next government by his party and its allies in the state. The combined strength of the BJP, AGP and BPF is 86 in the 126-member house.

Earlier, newly-elected 60 BJP legislators held their first formal meeting at a city hotel and unanimously elected Sonowal as their leader. Sonowal said the BJP will take Assam to new heights of development in cooperation with its alliance partners.
He said he did not have any problem in working with senior AGP leader and former state chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta.

With inputs from IANS

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Updated Date: May 24, 2016 18:27:58 IST

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