Senior BJP leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan took oath as the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh for the fourth time at a ceremony at the Raj Bhawan in Bhopal on Monday night, over 15 months after his government was voted out of power.
The 61-year-old BJP leader was sworn in by Governor Lalji Tandon at Raj Bhawan in Bhopal at 9pm.
Chouhan was earlier in the day elected leader of the state BJP legislature party at its meeting here.
Due to the coronavirus situation, no BJP leader fron Delhi travelled to Bhopal for the legislature party meeting, though the party's central observers Arun Singh and Vinay Sahasrabuddhe participated through video conferencing.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a tweet congratulated Chouhan. Responding to the wishes, the new chief minister thanked Modi for giving him a chance once again to helm the state.
मैं प्रधानमंत्री श्री @narendramodi का हृदय से आभारी हूँ जिन्होंने एक सामान्य कार्यकर्ता को जनसेवा हेतु अवसर प्रदान किया। प्रधानमंत्री जी को आश्वस्त करता हूँ कि #CORONAVIRUS के मौजूदा संकट से निपटना मेरी प्राथमिकता है। मध्यप्रदेश में इसकी रोकथाम हेतु सभी आवश्यक कदम उठाए जाएंगे। https://t.co/uMWCcu28gC— Shivraj Singh Chouhan (@ChouhanShivraj) March 23, 2020
Soon after taking oath as MP's 32nd chief minister, Chouhan got down to business and held a meeting with officials to review steps taken to contain the spread of coronavirus, his first major challenge. After taking oath, he went to the state secretariat and after offering prayers in the complex took charge of his office and presided over the meeting.
MP has till now has reported seven positive coronavirus cases. At the meeting, Chouhan reviewed the state's preparedness to fight COVID19.
Earlier, thanking the small audience from the stage after being sworn in, Chouhan said the country is passing through a very testing time. "Hence, it will not be proper to shake hands or receive bouquets in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak," he said.
"We all will defeat coronavirus jointly. It is our duty to protect elderly people (who are more vulnerable) from coronavirus," he said, urging people to strictly follow state government directives issued from time to time to defeat the pandemic.
BJP president JP Nadda said the Chouhan-led government will work to make up for the shortcomings that people of the state might have seen in the last 15 months of the Congress rule.
Popularly known among his followers as 'Mamaji', Chouhan was sworn in chief minister of Madhya Pradesh thrice earlier - in 2005, after Uma Bharti stepped down over a riots case, and for later two full terms in 2008 and 2013.
He stepped down after the Congress won a narrow majority in the December 2018 Assembly elections, after which the Kamal Nath government came to power.
Stumped by the rebellion of party colleague Jyodiraditya Scindia, who joined the BJP and resignations of 22 Congress MLAs, Nath resigned as chief minister last week, paving the way for Chouhan's return.
(With inputs from PTI)