CHENNAI: The happiness that marks a swearing in ceremony of a new ministry was completely missing at the Durbar Hall of the Raj Bhavan when the Council of Ministers headed by Chief Minister O Panneerselvam took the oath on Monday. The reason was obvious: the absence of their beloved leader J Jayalalithaa. The entire event went on like a mere procedure to form a new government.
At 1.15 pm, as Governor K Rosaiah entered the hall, the Chief Minister designate O Panneerselvam, Chief Secretary Mohan Verghese Chunkath, Public Secretary Jatindranath Swain and other officials received him.
As the Chief Secretary requested the Governor to administer the oath of office and secrecy to Panneerselvam, he moved to the podium and placed the photograph of Jayalalithaa at the podium before taking the oath.
But after a few words, his voice started faltering and he started wiping tears. Throughout the ceremony, Panneerselvam was seen wiping his tears and some other ministers too were sobbing uncontrollably.
Mukkur N Subramanian, IT minister, cried for a few moments and somehow managed to complete the oath. When B Valarmathi was asked to take the oath, she too started in a faltering voice and broke down when she was half way through. So was S Gokula Indira.
Throughout the hour-long swearing in ceremony, during which 31 ministers took the oath, the sound of sobs echoed in the hall.
After the swearing-in was over, the new Council of Ministers posed for a photograph with the Governor. As the Governor left the place, Panneerselvam and his cabinet colleagues walked upto their cars with gloomy faces. They did not speak to the waiting reporters.
Off to Bangalore
Later, all ministers assumed charge at their respective chambers at the Secretariat. In the evening, CM O Panneerselvam and ministers R Viswanathan, R Vaithilingam, K Palanisamy and C Vijaya Baskar left for Bangalore. Sources said other ministers may also go to Bangalore to meet Jayalalithaa.