The stage is set for Rajasthan Chief Minister-designate Vasundhara Raje to be sworn in at a grand ceremony on the Rajasthan Assembly premises here on Friday in the presence of thousands of people and Bharatiya Janata Party supporters. Ms. Raje will be the only one taking oath as the State Cabinet will be formed afterwards.
Elaborate arrangements have been made at the venue for the function and 30,000 chairs laid out at Rajpath opposite the Assembly building. The turnout is expected to be very big as the BJP has sent invitations to party workers at the block level and urged the public to take part in the event in large numbers.
In addition to the main stage erected in front of the Assembly, where Governor Margaret Alva will administer the oath of office to Ms. Raje, two more podiums have been built. One of them is for dignitaries and the other for over 50 sadhus and heads of religious institutions who will “bless” the new Chief Minister.
Apart from senior BJP leaders and Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled States, including Narendra Modi, former Vishwa Hindu Parishad president Ashok Singhal will also attend the ceremony.
The State government has deployed 27 officers to look after the arrangements and take security measures. The roads and footpaths around the Assembly and nearby government buildings were repaired and decorated during the past three days. Acting Chief Secretary C.S. Rajan, who reviewed the arrangements, said large screens were being installed at the venue and elsewhere in the city so that people can watch the live telecast of the ceremony.
Ms. Raje, who returned here on Thursday evening from Raipur after attending the swearing-in ceremony of Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, went straight to the venue with her son, Jhalwar MP Dushyant Singh, and inspected the place where the function will take place.
The Pradesh Congress has taken strong exception to the swearing-in and alleged that government funds were being misused for promoting the ruling party. “Far from being a simple ceremony, the swearing-in [ceremony] has been planned as a grand coronation of a Maharani. It is going to be a vulgar display of feudalism, which should have no place in the democracy,” Pradesh Congress spokesperson Archana Sharma said.
Ms. Sharma said the oath of office was administered to the Chief Minister in Raj Bhavan as a tradition, but the BJP had shifted the venue to the Assembly and invited thousands of people there to display the “opulence of those with a feudal mindset.” The money spent on the ceremony, she added, must be charged from the BJP.
With the BJP central leadership deciding that only Chief Ministers would be sworn-in in the three States where the party has come to power, Ms. Raje faces the arduous task of forming the Cabinet as several party stalwarts, who were Ministers in her previous regime between 2003 and 2008, have been elected again. The Constitutional limit on the size of the Cabinet is 15 per cent of the total strength of the legislature.
The BJP has won an unprecedented 162 seats in the just-concluded Assembly elections in the State. The party’s score is likely to go up to 163 with the polling in Churu constituency, which was postponed following the death of a candidate, taking place on Friday. BJP heavyweight and former Minister Rajendra Rathore is in the fray in Churu.