Raman Singh took the oath of office as Chhattisgarh Chief Minister for the third consecutive term on the Police Parade Ground here on Thursday.
The swearing-in was a repeat of what happened the same day in the same venue five years ago. In 2008, Mr. Singh was sworn in by the then Governor, E.S.L. Narasimhan. This time round, it was Shekhar Dutt who administered him the oath.
What was striking was that senior BJP leader L.K. Advani was the unofficial guest of honour in 2008, while this time, it was Gujarat Chief Minister and party prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. As Mr. Modi entered from the right corner of the stage, more than 20,000 people applauded him to the echo.
However, BJP supporters were keen on witnessing how Mr. Modi interacted with Mr. Advani. Last time they met each other in a public space in Chhattisgarh was in September. Then, Mr. Advani endorsed Mr. Modi as the prime ministerial candidate.
On Thursday, after entering the stage and making customary nods to the BJP brass on the grandstand, Mr. Modi moved to the far corner of the settee, where as Mr. Advani sat nonchalantly. He was seen bending a little to touch Mr. Advani’s feet. They shook hands and rested there with BJP president Rajnath Singh sitting in the middle.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister-elect Shivraj Singh Chauhan and Mr. Modi not only shook hands but also hugged each other for 20 seconds.
The Punjab and Goa Chief Ministers, Parkash Singh Badal and Manohar Parrikar, and the BJP chief ministerial candidate in Delhi, Harsh Vardhan, were present. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray arrived with his son, Adiyta, and Rajasthan’s Chief Minister-elect Vasundhara Raje Scindia, who will take the oath on Friday, was seen congratulating Mr. Singh on his hat-trick.
After the ceremony, the dignitaries left for Mr. Singh’s residence for lunch.
The only Congress leader who was accommodated on the stage was the former Chief Minister, Ajit Jogi. Some Congress workers were upset. “He should not have accepted the invitation,” said a Congress candidate, who lost the election by a slender margin.