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Nikki Haley set to be sworn in amid heavy snow in S Carolina

Lalit K Jha

Washington, Jan 12 (PTI) Indian American Namrata''Nikki'' Randhawa Haley, a daughter of Sikh immigrants fromPunjab, is all set to be sworn in as the South CarolinaGovernor at a ceremony in Columbia, despite a state ofemergency in the province due to heavy snowfall.

The inaugural ceremony, to be held Wednesday morning(local time) would be attended by several Congressmen in themidst of heavy snowfall and forecasts of deterioratingweather.

A State of Emergency has been declared in SouthCarolina as many as nine inches of snow has dropped in partsof the state and more that 2,000 car crashes were reportedtoday.

Because of the prevailing situation and massive powercuts, Haley postponed Tuesday night''s planned "Family FunNight" for Saturday.

The inaugural ceremony would be the first majorfunction in the state after the weekend''s assassination bid atCongresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who is in a criticalcondition at an Arizona hospital.

Haley would not only be the first non-white, but alsothe first woman governor of South Carolina.

Further, she would be only the second Indian Americanand the first Indian American woman to be sworn in as thegovernor of an American State. Republican Bobby Jindal, thecurrent Governor of Louisiana, is the first Indian American tooccupy the position.

Local police authorities said the security at theinauguration event would be tighter than usual.

Hundreds of people from all over the State includinga number of Indian Americans from various parts of the countryare scheduled to attend the inaugural to be held on the southside State House steps.

Local newspapers and television channels today showedpictures of the inaugural venue wherein the chairs werecovered with snow, as the region was hit by a massivesnowfall.

Authorities were working round the clock to clear thevenue of the snow.

"Tomorrow everything is going on as planned... Thechurch service will start early in the morning," saidInaugural Committee Co-Chair Katon Dawson.

The inauguration begins with a prayer service atTrinity Episcopal Cathedral in Downtown Columbia in themorning, followed by the State House ceremony at 11 am (localtime).

Thereafter, they have a First Family Open House at theGovernor''s Mansion. Finally, from 7:30 pm to 11 pm, aninaugural gala is scheduled.

When she enters the South Carolina Governor''s mansion,the 38-year-old politician would replace Jindal to be theyoungest current governor in the United States. .

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