New Delhi, May 30 : Narendra Modi who was sworn in as Prime Minister here on Thursday for the second five-year term created history by becoming the first non-Congress premier to head a BJP-led NDA government with its own full majority in the Lok Sabha.
Mr Modi’s team 2.0 represented a mix of seasoned political leaders, and fresh faces. During the nearly two-hour long ceremony, 58 ministers were administered oath of office and secrecy by President Ram Nath Kovind. The Modi team included 25 Cabinet rank ministers, including the Prime Minister, nine Ministers of State with Independent charge and 24 Ministers of State.
Mr Modi executed a fine balance of young and old as well as took care of different regions and allies of the BJP by accommodating them in his team.
If BJP President Amit Shah occupied a prominent place in the Union Cabinet taking oath after Rajnath Singh at serial number three, two prominent faces of the outgoing Modi government Maneka Gandhi and Suresh Prabhu did not find place in the Cabinet. Former Foreign Secretary Dr S. Jaishankar who was also India’s Ambassador in Beijing and Washington was included as a Cabinet Minister.
Former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj preferred to stay out of the Cabinet on account of their health conditions.
The grand and star-studded swearing-in ceremony at the sprawling forecourt of the majestic Rashtrapati Bhawan was witnessed by a distinguished gathering of nearly 8,000 guests. Leaders from Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Kyrgz Republic, Mauritius, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Nepal witnessed the ceremony, braving sweltering heat as mercury touched 43 degrees Celsius in the national Capital.
UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, Smajawadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, BJP patriarch L K Advani, veteran Murli Manohar Joshi, were seated in the front row. Industrialist Mukesh Ambani, Bollywood stars Kangana Ranawat, Anupam Kher, Shahid Kapoor, Karan Johar, Vivek Oberoi, Jitendra attended the ceremony. Mega star Rajnikanth who has described Mr Modi as a charismatic leader on the lines of Nehru and Indira Gandhi was a special attraction.
Riding on the popularity of Mr. Modi, BJP won a massive mandate by winning 303 seats on its own in the just-concluded elections for the 17th Lok Sabha and the NDA’s tally went up to 353. In his second term, Mr Modi becomes the 15th Prime Minister of the world’s largest democracy.
The Cabinet rank ministers included three women – Nirmala Sithraman, Smriti Irani, both ministers in the outgoing Modi government and Harsimrat Kaur Badal of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) who held Food Processing portfolio since 2014. Smriti Irani wrested the prestigious Amethi Lok Sabha seat from Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, demolishing a strong Gandhi family bastion in the heart of U.P.
A key ally of the BJP, Janata Dal (United) of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar decided to stay away from the Union Cabinet. Other allies who were given Cabinet berths included Ram Vilas Paswan of LJP and Arvind Sawant of Shiv Sena. Ramdas Athawale of Republican Party of India (RPI) was given Minister of State rank.
Attired in his sharp churidar-kurta and a light color jacket, Mr Modi arrived at the forecourt just moments before the swearing-in ceremony began and greeted the distinguished gathering. He was greeted by loud cheers and chants of ``Modi, Modi’’. Lusty cheers and rounds of claps were also reserved for BJP chief Amit Shah and Smriti Irani who took oath on their turns.
As the swearing-in ceremony stretched into evening hours and daylight slowly faded away, the colourful lighting of Rashtapati Bhawan and Jaipur Column presented a pleasing and glittering backdrop.
After the conclusion of the ceremony, Mr Modi and his council of ministers posed for photographs with President Mr. Kovind and Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu. Mr Modi was also warmly greeted by the foreign dignitaries and BIMSTEC leaders separately.