Lucknow: Akhilesh Yadav, whose campaign helped steered the Samajwadi Party gain an absolute majority in the elections, was on Thursday sworn in as the youngest Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh but a surprise inclusion in his Cabinet was the controversial MLA Raja Bhaiya.
38-year-old Akhilesh, son of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, was sworn in as the 33rd Chief Minister of the state at a function at the La Martinere College ground here in the presence of a huge gathering that included members of SP`s first family including Mulayam Singh, Akhilesh`s wife Dimple, and an array of political leaders.
Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal, INLD leader Om Prakash Chautala, CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat, CPI leader A B Bardhan and industrialists Anil Ambani and Subrata Roy Sahara and actress and former SP MP Jaya Bachchan
were also present.
Significantly, Congress which lost a high-stake battle to SP, sent Union Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and senior leader Moti Lal Vora as representatives to the event. BSP was represented by former ministers Naseemuddin Siddiqui and Swami
Among the 28 Cabinet ministers sworn in by Governor M L Joshi were senior leader and Muslim face of SP Azam Khan, Mulayam Singh`s brother Shivpal Singh Yadav, Ahmad Hasan, Waqar Ahmad Shah, Raja Mahendra Aridaman Singh, Ambika Chaudhary and Anand Singh. 19 others of Minister of State rank were also inducted.
Akhilesh, who appeared to give an image of breaking with the past and removing the tag of "goonda raj" associated with Samajawadi Party`s earlier rule, inducted Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya, against whom there are pending
criminal cases of attempt to murder, kidnapping and abduction.
Asked about the induction of Raja Bhaiyya at a press conference he addressed after the swearing-in ceremony, the new Chief Minister said cases against Raja Bhaiya were politically motivated.
"You know who had slapped maximum cases against Raja Bhaiyya. If you check the dates of cases lodged against him, you will know who is behind them," Akhilesh said in an apparent reference to his predecessor Mayawati.
Raja Bhaiyya, elected as an Independent with SP support, is a fifth time member of the Assembly from Kunda.
During the election campaign, Akhilesh had denied entry to controversial don-turned politician, D P Bhaiya into the party and had even earned the displeasure of some senior leaders.
At the press conference, Akhilesh said law and order is the government`s priority and responsibility.
"Samajwadi Party will fulfil promises made in the manifesto. Law and order will be our responsibility from today. Action would be taken against officers doing injustice," he told reporters here.
Attacking the Mayawati government, Akhilesh said, "Organised corruption as happened in the previous regime never took place in the state. There were restrictions during the previous government and UP is now celebrating democracy."
Other cabinet ministers, who were sworn in, were Balram Yadav, Om Prakash Singh, Awadhsh Prasad, Parasnath Yadav, Ram Govind Chaudhary, Durga Prasad Yadav, Brahma Shanker Tripathi, Kameshwar Upadhyaya, Raja Ram Pandey, Raj Kishore Singh and Shiv Kumar Beria.
Akhilesh`s ministry is a mix of old and new faces. While veterans like Azam Khan, Waqar Ahmad Shah, Shivpal Yadav, Ahmad Hasan and Ambika Chaudhary have been given cabinet berths, new faces like Abhishek Mishra, first time MLA from
Lucknow north seat, has also been inducted in the ministry.
Adequate representation of Muslims, who are said to have voted in larger numbers for SP, has been given in the government three being cabinet status and seven
minister of state rank.