Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Bhagwant Mann took oath as the 17th chief minister of Punjab on Wednesday, 16 March, at Khatkar Kalan, the ancestral village of freedom fighter Bhagat Singh, becoming the first non-Congress, non-Akali CM of the state.
Governor Banwarilal Purohit administered the oath of office and secrecy to Mann at an event attended by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and other senior AAP leaders. People from across the state, estimated to be around 3 lakh, were present to witness the mammoth swearing-in ceremony.
Addressing the crowd after taking the oath, Mann thanked those who had gathered to attend the ceremony.
"You have supported me. I thank each and every one of you. I am the CM of all, even of those who have not voted for me. This is a democracy."Bhagwant Mann
In his address, the leader repeatedly mentioned Bhagat Singh, saying that the late freedom fighter has "opened an account in our hearts".
He added, "I thank Arvind Kejriwal. He has worked a lot to improve the politics of the country. I would also like to thank Manish Sisodia. We will start work from today. We are very late, have been delayed by 70 years."
Congratulating Mann, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter and wrote, "Will work together for the growth of Punjab and welfare of the state’s people."
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also congratulated Mann and said, "Congratulations to Shri @BhagwantMann ji on taking oath as the Chief Minister of Punjab. My best wishes for his tenure ahead. [sic]"
AAP Sweeps Punjab Assembly Polls
The AAP recorded a thumping victory in the Assembly polls by winning 92 of the 117 seats. The Congress party could only win 18 seats, a massive decline from the 77 it had won in 2017, while the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) could manage to garner only three seats. Mann won from Dhuri by a margin of over 58,000 votes.
"On March 16, in Bhagat Singh's Khatkar Kalan, not just Bhagwant Mann will take the oath and become CM, but along with me all three crore people of Punjab will also become CM. Together we will make Shaheed Bhagat Singh's Rangla Punjab [sic]," Mann had said in a video message issued earlier.
AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal took to Twitter on Wednesday morning and wrote in Hindi, "Today is a big day for Punjab. On this golden morning of new hope, today the whole of Punjab will come together and take a pledge to make it prosperous."
Meanwhile, AAP Punjab co-in charge Raghav Chadha said, "Today marks an important day in the history of Punjab as 3 cr Punjabis will together be sworn in as CM along with Bhagwant Mann. Oath to change this corrupt system & to fulfill dreams of Shaheed-E-Azam Bhagat Singh & Babasaheb Ambedkar [sic]."
Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav also wished Mann ahead of the ceremony, wishing him success for his upcoming tenure as chief minister.
Around 3 Lakh Attendees Present
Mann also urged men to wear Bhagat Singh's trademark 'basanti' (yellow) turbans and women to wear basanti 'dupattas'.
Around three lakh attendees were present at the event and elaborate security arrangements were made for the ceremony.
Speaking to reporters from the ceremony venue, Punjabi singer Gurdas Maan hailed AAP and expressed, "It's just a beginning. Their (AAP) ideology is special. I pray that God gives them (AAP) courage to make prosperous Punjab."
According to NDTV, around 10,000 security personnel, including Inspector General and Senior Superintendent Police rank officers, were deployed for the event.
A school holiday has also been declared by the district administration in view of the huge crowd expected at the swearing-in ceremony.
Earlier, Mann had said that no government office will carry photographs of the chief minister. Instead, photos of Bhagat Singh and BR Ambedkar will be put up on the walls of all government offices.
(With inputs from NDTV.)