Raman Singh begins second innings as Chhattisgarh chief minister (Lead)

December 12th, 2008 - 3:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyRaipur, Dec 12 (IANS) Ayurvedic doctor turned Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politician Raman Singh was Friday sworn in as chief minister of Chhattisgarh for a second consecutive term at a function attended by top brass of his party as well as the opposition Congress.About 15,000 workers of the BJP as well as party president Rajnath Singh and senior leader L.K. Advani witnessed the ceremony at the Police Parade Ground where Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan administered the oath of office to the 56-year-old in Hindi.

Advani and Rajnath Singh had flown in to the state capital in a special plane to attend the function, held amid heavy security.

Congress leader and the state’s first chief minister Ajit Jogi as well as veteran party leader Vidya Charan Shukla were among the key figures from the opposition at the ceremony.

Raman Singh, first sworn in as chief minister on Dec 7, 2003 to head the first BJP government, is largely credited for single-handedly scripting the party’s success in the two-phased polls held on Nov 14 and 20. The BJP bagged 50 seats in the 90-member assembly.

Party insiders say Raman Singh is expected to pick his cabinet colleagues after holding discussions with the central leadership.

Analysts say Raman Singh, a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activist since childhood, has his task cut out for him — to contain the Maoists who run a de facto administration in the state’s vast forested southern interiors since 1980s. Maoist guerrillas have claimed over 1,100 lives since 2004 in the state.

The other challenge for him is to put into place a policy to improve the quality of life of nearly half the state’s 20.08 million population living below the poverty line.

Born on Oct 15, 1952 at Thathapur village in Kawardha district (now Kabirdham district), Raman Singh holds BSc and Bachelor in Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (BAMS) degrees. He has been in active politics since 1976.

Raman Singh’s long-time associate Santosh Pandey of Kawardha district said: “You will learn something all the time you are with him. He is a good listener and is not even remotely arrogant.”

He was elected to the undivided Madhya Pradesh assembly in 1990 and 1993 from Kawardha but lost the seat in 1998. The next year, in 1999, he was elected to the Lok Sabha from Rajnandgaon constituency, defeating Congress veteran Motilal Vora and was appointed union minister of state for commerce and industry in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.

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