Badal to be sworn as Punjab CM on March 14

Chandigarh: Akali veteran Parkash Singh Badal will be sworn in as Punjab Chief Minister on March 14 for a record fifth time with the SAD-BJP combine on Friday jointly electing the 85-year-old leader to head the state for a second consecutive term.

Governor Shivraj Patil invited Badal to form the new government for which the swearing-in ceremony will be held next Wednesday.

At a joint meeting here, SAD-BJP MLAs elected Badal as their leader, a day after the Shiromani Akali Dal legislators named him as leader of their legislaure party.

Badal's name was proposed by BJP state chief Ashwani Sharma and seconded by SAD President Sukhbir Badal.

BJP leaders present at today's meeting included incharge of Punjab affairs Shanta Kumar and Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley.

After the meeting, Badal accompanied by his son and SAD president, Sukhbir, BJP Legislature Party Leader Bhagat Chuni Lal, Ashwani Sharma, Shanta Kumar and SAD General Secretary Daljeet Singh Cheema went to the Punjab Raj Bhawan and handed over a copy of the resolution electing Badal as the leader of SAD-BJP Legislature Party to Patil.

The Governor then handed over a letter inviting Badal to form the government which would be sworn in on March 14 at Chapar Chiri Banda Bahadur Memorial in Ajitgarh district, about 50 km from here.

SAD created history in the state in 46 years since Punjab was reorganised in 1966 by becoming the first party ever to retain power in alliance with the BJP with an improved tally of 68 seats against 67 which the two parties secured five years back in 2007.

The SAD-BJP alliance got absolute majority in the 117- member state Assembly whereas the opposition Congress, which was hoping to defeat the ruling combine, failed to achieve the magic figure of 59, winning only 46 seats.

After the SAD-BJP alliance retained power on Tuesday there was some speculation that Badal Sr will hand over power to his son Sukhbir. Badal senior headed full two five-year terms from 1997 and 2007. His other terms were in 1977-1980 and 1970-71.