Thiruvananthapuram: Congress leader Oommen Chandy took oath for the second time as Kerala’s chief minister at Raj Bhavan. Governor RS Gavai administered oath to the newly elected CM on Wednesday.

67-year-old Chandy replaced AK Antony in 2004 following rout in the Lok Sabha polls.

Party leaders from all six allies of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) were also sworn in along with Chandy.  The new ministers include Indian Union Muslim League's (IUML) P.K. Kunhalikutty, K.M. Mani of the Kerala Congress (Mani), K.P. Mohanan of the Socialist Janata (Democratic) (SJ-D) party, T.M. Jacob of the Kerala Congress (Jacob), K.B. Ganesh Kumar of Kerala Congress (Pillai) and Shibu Baby John of the RSP (B).  Chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan, former minister and UDF leader K.R. Gowri, and former Left ministers Thomas Issac, M.A. Baby, and K. Ramachandran were also present at the swearing-in ceremony.

After tea with the Governor, Chandy and his newly-formed cabinet drove to the state secretariat for its first cabinet meeting.   The second round of swearing-in is expected to be held here May 23.

Chandy is perceived to be the best bet for Congress to lead the UDF ministry as it commands a wafer-thin majority with 72 seats in the 140-member Kerala Assembly.

Known for his organisational skills and administrative acumen, he is a key political player of Kerala for long and has played a vital role since 1970s in building the party as a mass force capable of taking on the CPI (M).

Chandy has been active in politics since school days and was an activist of Congress's student-wing Kerala Students Union.
His acceptability and popularity greatly helped the Congress to strike roots among the youth through the politically turbulent 1960s and 70s.

Chandy moved to the central role of the UDF left vacant by late K Karunakaran and A K Antony when he was chosen as chief minister for an interim term in 2004-06.

Though the entry of KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala into the electoral race this time had initially sent signals that he would throw his hat in the ring, he opted out paving the way for unanimous selection of Chandy as leader of Congress Legislature Party.

Since the 1970s, he has been a frontline soldier of the anti-Karunakaran camp in Congress in Kerala with seniors A K Antony and Vayalar Ravi, who emerged on the centre stage of politics drawing inspiration from the policies of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi after the Congress split in 1969.

Born on October 31, 1943 to Karottu Vallakkalil-KO Chandy and Baby, Chandy had leadership skills since his school days as a participant of the children's forum Balajana Sakhyam floated by leading newspaper house Malayala Manorama.

Chandy is one of the few Congress leaders in Kerala who never aspired for any post at the Centre- both, in the party or in the cabinet. Similarly, he has never contested Lok Sabha polls or sought a Rajya Sabha berth, always preferring to be in Kerala.
When Antony quit as chief minister, Chandy was unanimously elected as CLP leader as other contenders were too weak to pose a credible challenge to him.

In his first stint as chief minister, Chandy turned out to be a leader with inexhaustible energy and resources criss-crossing the length and breadth of the state.

Despite having assumed power in politically trying times after the rout of the Congress in Kerala in 2004, his ministry ushered in a series of welfare measures and laid the foundation for some major projects like the Kochi Smartcity.

His wife Mariamma Oommen is a retired bank officer and the couple has two daughters and a son.

(Agencies)