NEW DELHI – Narendra Modi – the man who led the National Democratic Alliance to a landslide victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections – took oath as the 15th prime minister of India on Monday in a ceremony in the forecourt of the presidential palace.
President Pranab Mukherjee administered oath to the newly-elected prime minister in presence of thousands of guests, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. It is the first time since the two countries won independence in 1947 that a prime minister from one state has attended such a ceremony in the other.
The grand outdoor ceremony was attended by the leaders of all South Asian countries as well as Mauritius. But all eyes were on the presence of Nawaz Sharif, who is expected to hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Modi on Tuesday. “It is a great moment and a great opportunity,” Nawaz told an Indian TV network on his arrival.
“I, Narendra Damodardas Modi, swear in the name of God that I will maintain the integrity of India,” Modi said in Hindi at the ceremony. “I will work without fear, anger or hatred and will do justice to all as per the constitution,” he added.
In 45-member new cabinet, senior BJP leaders Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Nitin Gadkari, Najma Heptullah and Uma Bharti were also sworn in as ministers, although they are yet to be allocated their ministries. Senior BJP leader LK Advani, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, India's top industrialists and film stars were in attendance as Modi walked up to take the oath.
Besides Nawaz Sharif, other regional leaders attending the ceremony included Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, Nepal's Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and Maldives' President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom. Bangladesh was represented by Speaker Shirin Chaudhury as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed is visiting Japan.
The Press Trust of India news service reported that tight security and traffic restrictions have been imposed in New Delhi and all offices around the presidential palace were closed five hours before the event. Given the margin of victory, the BJP will be able to govern without coalition partners – 272 MPs are required for an absolute majority.