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Bhajan Lal Sharma sworn in as Rajasthan CM on his birthday

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JAIPUR, Dec 15: First-time MLA Bhajan Lal Sharma was sworn in as the chief minister of Rajasthan at a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP’s top leadership on Friday, 12 days after the party ousted the Congress in the assembly polls.

Sharma, a BJP state general secretary, took charge of the state on the day he turned 57.

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Along with him, Diya Kumari and Prem Chand Bairwa were sworn in as the deputy chief ministers by Governor Kalraj Mishra. All three took the oath in Hindi.

The outgoing chief minister Ashok Gehlot attended the ceremony held in front of the historic Albert Hall here. A large gathering of BJP MLAs and workers from across the state witnessed it.

A Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-backed leader, Sharma was appointed the leader of the BJP legislature party on December 12.

The swearing-in ceremony was attended by PM Modi, BJP president J P Nadda, Union home minister Amit Shah, defence minister Rajnath Singh, Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari, Jal Shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and several other senior leaders of the party.

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Newly appointed chief minister of Madhya Pradesh Mohan Yadav, Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Dhami, Gujarat CM Bhupendrabhai Patel, Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde, Goa CM Pramod Sawant and deputy chief minister of Uttar Pradesh Keshav Prasad Maurya were also in attendance.

Seers and mahants from different places attended the ceremony as well.

As Sharma, Diya Kumari and Bairwa took the oath, BJP supporters raised slogans of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Modi-Modi’.

Ashok Gehlot, who was among the leaders who reached the programme early, sat next to “rival” Gajendra Singh Shekhwat and was seen talking to him.

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Gehlot has been repeatedly targeting Union minister Shekhawat, accusing him of being involved in the Sanjivani Credit Co-operative Society ‘scam’. Shekhawat, in turn, has filed a defamation case against Gehlot in Delhi.

Shortly before the oath ceremony, a brief commotion took place at an entry point in Ramniwas garden where people forcibly entered the venue.

Several people jumped over the barricades before police managed to stop them.

The BJP on December 12 picked first-time MLA Bhajan Lal Sharma as Rajasthan’s new chief minister, ending days of speculation that followed its victory in the assembly polls.

The surprise choice was announced after BJP MLAs met here and elected the 56-year-old legislator from Sanganer as the leader of its legislature party.

Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Vasundhara Raje were also among the frontrunners for the CM post before the legislature party meeting.

Sharma, a Brahmin face of the party, is from Bharatpur district and won the Sanganer constituency of Jaipur with a margin of 48,081 votes. He holds a master’s degree in Political Science.

He is the third in a series of lesser-known MLAs who have been elevated by the BJP to the chief minister’s post after the recently held assembly elections.

The others are Vishnu Deo Sai and Mohan Yadav who recently took oath as the chief ministers of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh respectively.

The BJP in Rajasthan won 115 seats in the November 25 assembly elections, while the Congress got 69 seats. Polling was held on 199 of the 200 seats in the state. (PTI)

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