Lucknow, March 15: Nine days after his Samajwadi Party (SP) won a thumping majority in Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh Yadav was Thursday sworn in as the 33rd chief minister of India’s most populous and politically crucial state.
At 38, Akhilesh Yadav is the youngest chief minister of the state. There was deafening applause by the many thousands of SP supporters and workers gathered at the sprawling La Martiniere College grounds here as Akhilesh Yadav took the oath of office in Hindi and swore in the name of god to abide by his duties.
He waved at the surging crowds, almost breaking barricades to catch a glimpse of him, and smiled at known faces, thanking them with folded hands as he walked across the specially erected dais to be sworn in by Governor B.L. Joshi.
The son of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav was credited with steering the party to victory in Uttar Pradesh. It won 224 of the 403 seats in the assembly, leaving Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party with only 80 seats.
The momentous day saw not just a generational change in the SP but also gave ample indication that Mulayam Singh had left the state completely to his son and was happy playing the back bencher.
Coming to the venue ahead of son Akhilesh, Mulayam Singh took care that guests from other states and national leaders were well taken care of. Prominent amongst them were former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who was sworn in for the fifth time Wednesday and AIADMK chief J. Jayalalithaa’s emissary M. Thambidurai.
The swearing-in ceremony of the new chief minister and his cabinet saw a large presence of industrialists, religious seers and film stars. Bollywood was represented by Jaya Bachchan and Zayed Khan while the industry was represented by Sahara Chief Subrata Roy Sahara and Reliance Group chairman Anil Ambani.
Akhilesh Yadav’s cabinet includes veteran Azam Khan, uncle Shivpal Singh Yadav, retired IPS officer Ahmad Hasan as well as Raghuraj Pratap Singh aka Raja Bhaiya, an Independent legislator who has been arrested for his alleged involvement in criminal cases and is currently out on bail.
Akhilesh Yadav is currently a Lok Sabha MP and would need to get elected to the Uttar Pradesh legislature within six months.