Ajit Singh sworn-in as cabinet minister

New Delhi : Days after he struck an electoral deal with the ruling UPA, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) leader Ajit Singh was Sunday sworn in as cabinet minister at a brief ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Singh was the only minister to take oath at a 5-minute ceremony. President Pratibha Patil administered the oath.

Son of former prime minister Charan Singh, Ajit Singh is a six-time member of the Lok Sabha and represents the family bastion Baghpat.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi and some ministers were present as the 72-year-old Jat leader took oath in Hindi.

Several senior ministers stayed away due to prior engagements. These included Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna.

Vice President Hamid Ansari, Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and Renewable Energies Minister Farooq Abdullah were among those present.

The RLD has five members in the Lok Sabha, including Singh and his son Jayant Chaudhary.

Singh, who joined the United Progressive Alliance Dec 12, is likely to be made the civil aviation minister.

The Congress admitted the RLD into the ruling alliance in a bid to improve its prospects in the coming Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.

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