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Parkash to be sworn in as CM on March 14

Chandigarh: Akali stalwart Parkash Singh Badal will be sworn in as Punjab Chief Minister on March 14 for a record fifth time with Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) electing him as its Legislature party leader unanimously today, ending all speculation over the leadership issue.

"I had declared it well in advance that Badal will be the Chief Minister," SAD President Sukhbir Singh Badal told reporters at the chief minister`s official residence here.

Sukhbir said the swearing-in ceremony of 85-year-old Badal, who will head the SAD-BJP coalition government, will he held on March 14 at the historic Chapar Chiri Banda Bahadur Memorial in Fatehgarh Sahab district, about 50 km from here. The oath taking ceremony is traditionally held at Raj Bhavan.

After the SAD-BJP alliance retained power on Tuesday there was speculation that Badal Sr will hand over power to his son Sukhbir. Badal senior headed full two five-year terms from 1997 and 2007. His other terms were in 1977-1980 and 1970-71.

When his attention was drawn on who will become the next deputy chief minister, Sukhbir, who is currently holding the post, said that there was no confusion on the issue. "Both the SAD and the BJP will decide upon the post of Deputy Chief Minister," he added.

On who all will be inducted in the Badal cabinet, Sukhbir said that a decision to that effect will be taken by the chief minister. He gave his father the credit for returning the SAD to power. "Under the leadership of (Parkash Singh) Badal, the state performed well and Akalis got victory," he said.

SAD-BJP alliance broke a 46-year-old jinx in the reorganised state and becoming the first government to come to power for a second successive term.

Sukhbir thanked people of Punjab for reposing faith in the policies and programmes of the SAD and said, "The SAD-BJP alliance government will strive to fulfil the dreams of the people of the state. "It is rule of people that has been retained in Punjab by the electorate," he said, adding that the verdict had sent a clear signal to political parties and leaders that whosoever will perform will lead the government.

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