Prem Kumar Dhumal, who led the Bharatiya Janata Party to a spectacular victory in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls, was sworn in as Chief Minister of the state for the second time on Sunday.
Governor V S Kokje administered the oath of office and secrecy to the 63-year-old veteran BJP leader at a public ceremony at the historic Ridge Maidan in Shimla.
Dhumal, an English professor-turned-politician, was unanimously elected leader of the Himachal BJP Legislature
Party on Saturday.
A three-time MLA who headed the BJP government in Himachal for the first time from 1998 to 2003, Dhumal is the
16th Chief Minister of the state since it was formed in 1971.
BJP stalwart L K Advani, party vice-presidents Shanta Shanta and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Chief Ministers of Punjab, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan -- P S Badal, B C Khanduri and Vasundhra Raje respectively -- attended the swearing-in function.
Neither outgoing Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh nor any other Congress leader was present on the occasion.
Breaking from the past tradition, Dhumal took the oath at a public function at the Ridge Maidan amid shouts of Jai
Shri Ram. Till now, such functions were held at the Raj Bhawan only.
Dhumal, who considers number nine as auspicious, took the oath exactly at 11:25 A M which adds up to nine.
Dhumal and Shanta Kumar, whose rift in the past was well-known, hugged each other each after the function.
Dhumal, who alone took the oath today, is likely to expand his ministry after consultations with the Central party
Asked about the composition of the ministry, he told reporters, "You (media) will be informed".
Dhumal was projected as the chief ministerial candidate by the BJP and his election as leader of the Legislature Party
was a mere formality.