New Delhi: Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh on Sunday joined the Union Cabinet as a minister. The move is being seen in the political circles as a bid by the Congress to strengthen itself ahead of the UP elections where it has tied up with his party.
Singh was administered the oath of office and secrecy by President Pratibha Patil here at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Following his swearing in, Singh has been allocated the Civil Aviation Ministry portfolio.
On the advice of the Prime Minister, President Patil allocated Civil Aviation Ministry to Singh, Rashtrapati Bhavan said in a statement.
Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and a number of Union ministers and party leaders were present on the occasion.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who played a key role in bringing RLD into the UPA ahead of the Uttar Pradesh elections scheduled in the next few months, was also present. He was seen sitting along with Jayant Chaudhary, son of Ajit Singh, who is also an MP and represents Mathura.
The 72-year-old Jat leader from western Uttar Pradesh was inducted into the Cabinet a week after his party formally joined the UPA, the first political outfit to do so since the alliance came to power for the second time in May 2009.
Ajit Singh told reporters his alliance with Congress has
now provided a "clear-cut alternative" to the people of Uttar
Pradesh against the "oppressive" Mayawati-led BSP government.
He asserted that the "wave" generated in Uttar Pradesh
due to the Congress-RLD alliance will be felt across the
This is the fourth time Ajit Singh has become a Union minister. Singh was a member of the PV Narasimha Rao-led Congress government. He held the Food portfolio then.
Ajit Singh, whose RLD has five members in the Lok Sabha, has become the 33rd minister in the Union Cabinet and 77th in the Council of Ministers.
With RLD joining the ruling coalition, UPA`s strength in the Lok Sabha has gone up from 272 to 277.
The expansion of the Council of Ministers by Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh is the third such exercise since the
UPA-II came to power. Singh is the 33rd minister in the Union
Cabinet and 77th in the Council of Ministers.
With PTI inputs