In the first of two BJP swearing-ins today, Mohan Yadav took oath as the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, among others.
Madhya Pradesh Governor Mangubhai Patel also administered the oath of office to Deputy Chief Ministers Rajendra Shukla and Jagdish Devda.
Elected as an MLA from the Ujjain South constituency in last month's elections, Mr Yadav was a minister in the previous Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in Madhya Pradesh. He is considered to be close to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and belongs to the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), which make up over 48% of the state's population.
The 58-year-old won his first Assembly election from Ujjain South in 2013 and was re-elected in 2018. He was the education minister under the Chouhan government.
Mr Yadav's name was the second surprise pick announced by the BJP after it was declared the winner in three Hindi heartland states on December 3. Fighting anti-incumbency in a state it had ruled for nearly 20 years, the party pulled off a stupendous victory in Madhya Pradesh, winning 163 seats in the 230-member Assembly and reducing the Congress to just 66.
Despite Mr Chouhan not being named as the chief ministerial pick and the BJP banking on PM Narendra Modi's popularity for this year's polls, experts said the four-time chief minister's popularity and welfare schemes, especially Ladli Behna, played a big role in the party's success.
Keen on effecting a generational change in all three states - Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh - however, the BJP leadership sprang a surprise by picking Mr Yadav as the chief minister.
Mr Chouhan, who had moved the resolution proposing Mr Yadav's name as chief minister, was present at the swearing-in, along with BJP President JP Nadda, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde of the Shiv Sena (Shinde faction), Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami. Union Ministers Jyotiraditya Scindia and Nitin Gadkari also attended the event.
Before the oath ceremony, Mr Yadav visited a temple in Bhopal. "I belong to Raja Vikramaditya's town (Ujjain) who was known for good governance. The oath ceremony will take place in the presence of the world's most popular leader - Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I welcome Modi ji, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP President JP Nadda and various Union ministers and chief ministers on the soil of Madhya Pradesh," Mr Yadav had told news agency PTI.
On his priorities, Mr Yadav said, "We will focus on progress in education, health, employment (sectors) and development in all other areas in the state under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi ji."
Rajendra Shukla and Jagdish Devda have been sworn in as deputy chief ministers both to soothe ruffled feathers and to balance caste equations ahead of the all-important Lok Sabha elections next year.
Elected from Malhagarh by nearly 60,000 votes in last month's elections, Mr Devda is a scheduled caste leader. The six-time MLA was first elected as an MLA in 1990 and was also a minister in the previous Chouhan government. The 66-year-old held the post of Speaker in the Madhya Assembly for a few months in 2020.
Mr Shukla, who won the Rewa seat for a fifth time by around 21,000 votes, is a strong Brahmin face of the party from the Vindhya Pradesh region, which was once considered a Congress stronghold. The 59-year-old has held several portfolios, including industry and energy, in the Madhya Pradesh government.