All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary Jayalalithaa was on Monday sworn in as the 17th Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.
Hours after she assumed office, Ms. Jayalalithaa went to Fort St. George, which has again become the seat of power, and gave her formal approval to seven proposals that included provision of 20 kg rice free of cost for those entitled to it under the Public Distribution System. Beneficiaries of the Antodaya Anna Yojana Scheme (for the poorest of the poor) will get 35 kg rice free of cost.
Other approvals given by her included distribution of four gram gold for making thali (mangalsutra) free, along with marriage assistance of Rs. 50,000 (which was earlier Rs. 25,000) to women with graduate degrees or diplomas; increase in the monthly assistance from Rs. 500 to Rs. 1,000 for senior citizens, persons with disabilities and destitute women; hike in the assistance from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 2,000 for fisherfolk during the 45-day ban on fishing; and a six-month-long maternity leave for government women employees. Under another marriage assistance scheme, four gram gold for making thali (mangalsutra) would be given free coupled with Rs. 25,000 to educated poor women.
A Special Programme Implementation Department was established. After affixing her signature on the files, the Chief Minister told journalists she had cleared the proposals as part of fulfilling the electoral promises of her party.
Earlier, at a glittering function at a packed Madras University Centenary Auditorium here, Governor Surjit Singh Barnala administered the oath of office and allegiance and secrecy to Ms. Jayalalithaa and 33 Ministers. The entire Cabinet took the oath in the name of God.
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi; the former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu; Communist Party of India general secretary A.B. Bardhan; Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh; and Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam founder Vijayakant were among those who attended the function.
When Ms. Jayalalithaa resumed her seat after signing the copies of oaths and greeting the Governor, a section of the audience raised slogans such as Thanga Thalaivi Vaazhga, Puratchi Thalaivi Vaazhga.
After all the Ministers were sworn in, Ms. Jayalalithaa saw the Governor off. She came down from the dais and greeted the invitees.
Mr. Modi was the first to present her a shawl followed by Mr. Naidu and Mr. Vijayakant.
Ms. Jayalalithaa later told journalists that she would meet the press once a week.