Narendra Modi takes oath as India's PM
Amid the presence of high profile dignitaries from India and beyond its border, Narendra Modi on Monday took oath as India's 15th Prime Minister at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi, capping a political carnival in the world's biggest democracy that lasted for months and saw the man of the moment's inexorable journey to the hot seat after an unprecedented electioneering.
President Pranab Mukherjee administered the oath of office and secrecy to Modi, who became a widely accepted leader with a Midas touch in translating support into votes for his party BJP and graduating from a polarising force in Indian politics owing to the 2002 Gujarat riots, to the prime minister of a secular nation.
Mukherjee also administered the oath of office and secrecy to Modi's council of ministers in the presence of other leaders of this part of the world including Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supremo Rajnath SIngh and other senior party leaders like Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Venkaiah Naidu, Smriti Irani, VK Singh (former Army chief) among others took oath as ministers.
The presence of Sharif and Rajapaksa sent a new signal from India to the world and is seen as the beginning of a new era in the South Asia geopolitics.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and other top leaders like Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi, vice-president Rahul Gandhi were among the hosts of dignitaries who were present at the venue to witness the new PM's oath-taking ceremony.
With nearly 4,000 people on the guest list, the glittering ceremony is one of the biggest events held at Rashtrapati Bhawan that is usually accustomed to large ceremonies attended by not more than 1,500 visitors.
Besides foreign leaders and foreign diplomats, members of the former council of ministers, constitutional heads, 777 MPs of both houses, chief ministers, governors, journalists and some corporate leaders are attending the swearing-in.
Nearly 10,000 security personnel, drawn from paramilitary forces as well as the Special Protection Group and the National Security Guard, were deployed in and around the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Ahead of his swearing-in, Modi left for a visit to Rajghat on Monday morning to pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi.
Following the swearing-in, he will move in to New Delhi's 7 Race Course Road, the clutch of seven bungalows spread over 12 acres that has housed India's heads of government for three decades.
Narendra Modi's journey began in the by-lanes of Vadnagar, a small and nondescript town in North Gujarat's Mehsana district.
Born on 17th Sept 1950, Modi was the third of the sixth children of Damodardas Modi and Hiraba Modi.Vadnagar is a town that is steeped in history.
Vadnagar station, where Narendra Modi's father owned a tea stall, was where Narendra Modi also sold tea.
Modi formally joined the RSS in early 1970s and was underground during the Emergency in India declared by Indira Gandhi in 1975.
It was in 1987 that Modi had first joined BJP. When in 1995 the BJP won a majority in Gujarat, began a new journey for Modi. Modi was the key strategist for the BJP in the 1995 and 1998 campaigns in the state.
He shot into limelight in 2001 when Keshubhai Patel exited as Gujarat chief minister after a devastating earthquake. As Modi stepped into the shoes of Keshubhai, there was no looking back.
But then came the 2002 riots after the burning down of Hindu kar sevaks (religious volunteers) in a train in Godhra in Gujarat. What followed was unprecedented rioting in Gujarat in which Muslims were killed. It is said about 1000 people and mostly from the minority community lost their lives in the riots when Modi had allegedly not acted enough to save them.
While Modi since then has been hounded by rights activists, political rivals and even foreign governments, he got clean chits from the courts, including the highest court (Supreme Court) in India.
He was even denied a US visa since 2005 for the riots and has been seen since then as an untouchable politically and internationally. But the rapid economic development of Gujarat and his meteoric rise in BJP, overtaking party patriarchs like LK Advani, forced everyone to take note.
Also Modi used an aggressive marketing machinery and team and among all the political leaders in India, he is perhaps the first to tweet on every issue. Modi used social media and Internet to the hilt in furthering his political image.
With the landslide election victory of BJP and NDA, the unputdownable Modi thus became the Prime Minister of India.
(Posted on 26-05-2014)