Lucknow, Mar 19: BJP's hardline Hindutva poster boy and five-time MP, Yogi Adityanath was today sworn in as the 21st chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, heading a 47-member council of ministers that includes two deputy CMs.
A surprise inclusion was cricketer-turned-politician Mohsin Raza, who was sworn in as a minister of state, becoming the lone Muslim face in the state government. BJP had not fielded any Muslim candidate in the Assembly polls.
Interestingly, the chief minister, his two deputies -- BJP state unit chief Keshav Prasad Maurya and party's national vice president Dinesh Sharma -- and Raza are not members of either House of the UP legislature.
Besides the two deputy CMs, his council of ministers has 22 other cabinet ministers, nine ministers of state with independent charge and 13 ministers of state.
The 44-year-old Adityanath is the fourth chief minister from the saffron party, ending its 15-year hiatus in the Hindi heartland state.
The oath of office and secrecy was administered by Governor Ram Naik at Kashiram Smriti Upvan at a grand 90-minute ceremony attended by a galaxy of BJP luminaries including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh and L K Advani.
Expressing "immense confidence" that this new team will leave no stone unturned in making UP 'Uttam Pradesh', Modi tweeted, "There will be record development. Our sole mission & motive is development. When UP develops, India develops. We want to serve UP's youth & create opportunities for them..."
Outgoing chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and his father and Samajwadi Party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav also attended the function.
The swearing-in ceremony was the culmination of a seven-phased Assembly election spread over two months in the most populous state, which gave BJP a landslide victory in the 403-member Assembly. BJP and its allies have won 325 seats.
Adityanath, who lacks administrative experience, was unanimously elected yesterday as the BJP legislature party leader at a meeting of the newly elected MLAs, a move that took many by surprise.
Soon after he was sworn in, Adityanath assumed charge in the newly constructed Lok Bhawan.
The elevation of Adityanath, who has had a chequered rapport with the BJP leadership, has left many puzzled, with political circles abuzz with talk of the RSS having prevailed over the party in deciding the chief minister.
However, RSS Joint General Secretary V Bhagaiah told reporters in Coimbatore that it was a political decision and RSS had no say in the selection of chief ministers in BJP-ruled states.
Often caught in controversy because of his speeches, Adityanath, who heads the Gorakhnath Mutt, allegedly led a "purification" drive for conversion of Christians to Hinduism in 2005.
In 2015, he had said those who oppose yoga can leave India and that they should all be drowned.
He was arrested for allegedly inciting Gorakhpur riots in 2007.
Adityanath, who has been accused by opposition parties of being a divisive political figure, enjoys considerable popularity in the state and is known to make provocative statements, be it about Islam or Pakistan.
A strong votary of construction of the Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya, he drove BJP's Hindutva campaign in the eastern UP in the just concluded Assembly polls.
Besides Keshav Maurya and Dinesh Sharma, the 22 other cabinet ministers sworn-in include Surya Pratap Shahi, Suresh Kumar Khanna, Swami Prasad Maurya, Satish Mahana, Rajesh Agarwal, Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Dara Singh Chauhan, Dharampal Singh, SP Singh Baghel and Satyadev Pachauri.
The rest of the cabinet ministers are Ramapati Shastri, Jai Prakash Singh, Om Prakash Rajbhar, Brijesh Pathak, Lakshmi Narain Chowdhury, Chetan Chauhan, Srikant Sharma, Rajendra Pratap Singh alias Moti Singh, Siddharth Nath Singh, Mukut Bihari Verma, Ashutosh Tondon and Nand Gopal Gupta Nandi.
The governor also administered the oath of office and secrecy to nine ministers of state (independent charge).
They are Anupma Jaiswal, Suresh Rana, Upendra Tiwari, Mahendra Kumar Singh, Swatantra Dev Singh, Bhupendra Singh Chowdhury, Dharam Singh Saini, Anil Rajbhar and Swati Singh.
The thirteen ministers of state who took oath are Gulab Devi, Jai Prakash Nishad, Archana Pandey, Jai Kumar Singh Jacky, Atul Garg, Ranvendra Pratap Singh alias Dhunni Singh, Nilkanth Tiwari, Mohsin Raza, Girish Chandra Yadav, Baldev Olekh, Mannu Kori, Sandeep Singh and Suresh Pasi.
With this, the Adityanath government has 24 cabinet ministers, including two deputy CMs, nine MoS (independent charge) and 13 ministers of state. Five of the ministers are women.
Before Adityanath, Kalyan Singh, Ram Prakash Gupta and Rajnath Singh of BJP had served as UP chief minister. Kalyan Singh, now Rajasthan governor, held the high office twice.