Nara Chandrababu Naidu, 64, took oath as the first chief minister of the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh on Sunday at 7.27 pm, thus completing the bifurcation of the state.
At a function attended by lakhs of people, Governor E S L Narasimhan administered the oath of office to Naidu on the 70-acre grounds of Acharya Nagarjuna University, that falls between Vijayawada and Guntur cities.
Naidu will have two deputy chief ministers. They were sworn in along with 17 other Cabinet ministers. N Chinnarajappa, MLA from Peddapuram, and K Krishna Murthy from Kurnool are likely to be the deputy CMs. Two BJP MLAs, Kamineni Srinivas and P Manikyala Rao, have been accommodated in the Cabinet.
Dr P Narayana, who runs the popular Narayana Group of educational institutions, has also been made a minister.
Political observers said Naidu had played a masterstroke by inducting the BJP in the ministry, ensuring that the Centre pays attention to the development of the state he leads.
All districts of the state have got representation in the Cabinet except Kadapa, which is a YSR Congress Party bastion. Two MLAs each of East Godavari, West Godavari, Guntur and Anantapur, and three of Krishna district are now ministers.
Keeping his election promises, the first decision of Naidu as CM was to sign a file related to waiver of crop loans and loans to women self-help groups and weavers. A committee will be constituted to frame guidelines for the loan waiver, and will have to submit its report in 45 days.
Naidu also signed files related to closure of belt shops (illegal liquor vends in villages), enhancement of pension to Rs 1,000 a month to old people and widows and up to Rs 1,500 in two slabs for physically-challenged, and implementation of NTR Sujala, a scheme for supply of clean drinking water to villages. “We will supply mineral water to needy villages at Rs 2 per 20 litres,” he said.
In another decision, the retirement age of state government employees was raised from 58 to 60 years.
As Naidu’s name was called to take oath at Sunday’s ceremony, there was pandemonium in the assembled crowd, with slogans being raised and lakhs springing to their feet.
Although Naidu had personally invited newly sworn in Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao and YSR Congress Party leader Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy to the swearing-in, both stayed away. While KCR cited a tight schedule, Jagan said he did not want to be part of the “pomp and extravagance” of Naidu’s oath-taking.
But the extravagant show with folk and cultural programmes did see senior political leaders, film stars and business tycoons in attendance. They included senior BJP leaders L K Advani and Murali Manohar Joshi, Union ministers Rajnath Singh, M Venkaiah Naidu, Arun Jaitley, Prakash Javadekar, Nirmala Sitharaman, Sadananda Gowda, and Piyush Goyal, and CMs Naveen Patnaik, Parkash Singh Badal, Manohar Parrikar, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Raman Singh, Vasundhara Raje and Anandiben Patel.
All the highways leading to Vijayawada and Guntur were jammed. Most dignitaries arrived by chartered flights at Gannavaram airport and were airlifted in two choppers to the venue.