Raman Singh takes oath

RAIPUR Dec. 7. Raman Singh today took over as the second Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh. The oath of office and secrecy was administered to him by the Governor, K.M. Seth, at the Police Grounds in the presence of thousands of BJP supporters.

Dr. Singh, who was sworn in alone, told reporters that he would announce his Cabinet after meeting the Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and other senior party leaders in New Delhi on December 9.

He said the Cabinet had been decided and just needed final touches.

Among those present at the swearing-in ceremony were the Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani; the BJP national president, Venkaiah Naidu; Union Ministers Sahib Singh Verma, Rajnath Singh and Sushma Swaraj; the Jharkhand Chief Minister, Arjun Munda; the Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, senior Congress leader Shyama Charan Shukla and the Nationalist Congress Party State president, V.C. Shukla.

Talking to reporters after assuming office, Dr. Singh said his Government would review all cases that were politically motivated. The first Cabinet meeting would decide on the Government's policy on naxalites and implementation of the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

The previous Government took some decisions which were "anti-people" and needed to be reviewed, he said.

Dr. Singh said the officers against whom there were charges of corruption would be given a chance to "reform" but those who failed would be "tackled."

On the implementation of the election manifesto, Dr. Singh said that all unemployed youth who had passed Class 12 and who belonged to families living Below the Poverty Line (BPL) would be given an allowance of Rs. 500 from April 1, 2004. Similarly, subsidised kitchens or `Tripti Centres' as these will be called, would be established at all district centres from the next financial year.

The centres would sell a meal of dal and rice for Rs. 5. The Government had decided to give `pattas' (ownership rights) to villagers who have been living in forest villages before 1990.

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