Chennai, May 16: AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa was today sworn in Tamil Nadu Chief Minister for a third time at the head of a 34-member Ministry, capping her spectacular come back to power with a landslide mandate. Watched by a galaxy of leaders, including Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, CPI General Secretary A B Bardhan and former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, the 63-year-old leader was sworn-in by Governor S S Barnala at the historic Centenary Auditorium of Madras University here.
The Governor also administered the oath of office and secrecy to 33 others, including O Pannerselvam, who did a holding operation as Chief Minister when she could not remain in office due to legal problems.
RLD chief Ajit Singh, CPI National Secretary D Raja, allies—DMDK chief Vijayakant, his party leader Panruti S Ramachandran, Sarath Kumar and his wife Raadhika—and journalist Cho Ramasamy were among the prominent personalities who attended the ceremony.
Conspicuous by their absence were Jawaharullah, leader of allied party Manithaneya Makkal Katchi, because of the presence of Modi and DMK leaders.
Jayalalithaa, who powered the AIADMK front to a famous victory securing 200 of the 234 seats in the April 13 assembly polls to unseat arch-rival DMK, and her cabinet colleagues took the oath in Tamil and in the name God. In the largest-ever ministry since independence in the state, she opted for a blend of experience and youth with most ministers making their maiden entry into the state cabinet.
The Chief Minister, who had made “deteriorating” law and order a focal point of her campaign, has decided to keep the Home portfolio with herself.
Slogans hailing Jayalalithaa ‘Puratchi Thalaivi' (Revolutionary Leader) and ‘Amma' rent the air as she took the oath with party workers thronging the venue in huge numbers. Thousands of eager AIADMK supporters descended on the venue making it diffult for the police regulate traffic on the arterial Kamarajar Road as Jayalalithaa herself was caught in the erratic vehicle flow for a few minutes before arriving.
Anxious moments prevailed as Governor's arrival was delayed for nearly 20 minutes as a restless Jayalalithaa was seen looking at her watch.
Once Barnala arrived, Jayalalithaa hurridely went through with the customary introduction of her Ministers to him.
Soon after the ceremony was over, Jayalalithaa walked down the stage to exchange pleasantries with the leaders present.
Jayalalithaa spent a few minutes talking to Vijayakant as he presented her a shawl and was seen having a cordial interaction in the first public appearance together after the two entered into the seat-sharing deal for the assembly polls.
Vijayakant is likely to be Leader of the Opposition as his party had secured more seats than DMK, which suffered one of the worst poll debacles manging to win only 23 seats as Jayalalithaa rode the anti-incumbency wave the scale of which baffled political analysts and pollsters. PTI