New Delhi: It was a day that members and supporters of the Left Democratic Front were eagerly awaiting since the results for the April 6 Assembly elections came out on May 2, as Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday took oath as Kerala Chief Minister for a second consecutive term, breaking an over four-decade pattern of alternating governments.
The LDF comfortably retained power, winning a record 99 seats in the 140-member Assembly and leaving the Congress-led united Democratic Front, which was hopeful of returning to power, with only 41.
Governor Arif Mohammed Khan administered the oath of office to Vijayan and 20 of his cabinet colleagues at a function at the Central Stadium here.
The venue, spanning around 80,000 square feet, and comprising an impressive dais, decked with red flowers sourced from a local flower farm, was ready since morning and across the state, people were glued to TV sets since 2 p.m. waiting for their hero Vijayan to arrive.
By 2 p.m, the around 400 invitees started arriving, with new CPI-M ministers, Saji Cherian, accompanied by his wife, and V.N. Vasavan, among the first ones to reach.
Around 2.45 p.m., Vijayan drove into the stadium along with his wife Kamala Vijayan and his grandson and went around wishing the invited guests with folded hands.
Religious leaders including bishops, Hindu seers and Muslim clerics from the city and other VVIPs were also present.
Soon the seats started getting filled, according to Covid protocols, with the only ones missing being the ordinary rank and file workers of the Left.
Before the swearing-in ceremony, a musical tribute appeared on the video wall to mark the second term for Vijayan, with superstar Mammootty introducing it, and singers and leading lights including K.J. Yesudas, A.R.Rehaman, superstar Mohanlal, Chithra, and Sujatha featuring it.
Incidentally in 2016, when Vijayan won his first victory, the stadium was filled with a record 40,000 people, cheering every Minister when their name was called, but this time, it was not to be as the Kerala High Court had directed that there should be no breaking of Covid protocols and the audience should be kept to the barest minimum.
Conspicuous by their absence was the entire Opposition, as outgoing Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala on Thursday morning called up Vijayan and offered his congratulations and informed him that they are not boycotting the event but had decided to observe the strict Covid protocols as the district is under triple lockdown, and would watch the swearing-in sitting on TV at their homes.
After the ceremony, Vijayan and the ministers then drove to the Raj Bhavan for a tea hosted by the Governor.