Senior Congress leader Ashok Gehlot on Monday took oath as the Rajasthan chief minister while state party chief Sachin Pilot was appointed as his deputy in a ceremony that turned into a show of strength for Opposition unity.
Governor Kalyan Singh administered oath of office to Gehlot at the historic Albert Hall. Pilot took oath as a minister and was subsequently appointed as the deputy chief minister by the governor in the presence of a large number of leaders from various political parties.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi, former PM Manmohan Singh, outgoing CM Vasundhara Raje attended the event. NCP chief Sharad Pawar, TDP supremo and Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu, NC president Farooq Abdullah and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav were also present.
Janata Dal (Secular) president and former PM HD Deve Gowda, Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy and JMM's Hemant Soren were among others who attended the event. DMK president MK Stalin, who had on Sunday proposed the name of Gandhi as the prime ministerial candidate of the proposed anti-BJP front, was also there at the ceremony.
Gehlot became the fourth leader to hold the chief minister's post for a third time. The Congress leader became the chief minister for the first time in 1998 and held the post again in 2008. Pilot was wearing a ‘safa’ or a traditional turban as a mark of victory of the Congress in the state. The state Congress president had pledged in 2014 to not wear the traditional headgear till the party returns to power.
Prior to the oath ceremony, Gehlot and Pilot and other leaders welcomed Gandhi, Manmohan Singh and others at the Jaipur airport, from where they left to the Albert hall, an iconic structure located in the heart of the city. This is for the first time that the oath-taking ceremony of the chief minister took place at the hall. Traditionally, such ceremonies are held at Raj Bhawan. Raje, however, had taken oath outside the Assembly building in 2003 and 2013.