PM Modi vows ‘inclusive’ India

India’s new Premier Narendra Modi shakes hands with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif during Modi’s inauguration in New Delhi on Monday. (AP)

India’s new Premier Narendra Modi shakes hands with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif during Modi’s inauguration in New Delhi on Monday. (AP)

Narendra Damodardas Modi scored several firsts on Monday when he was sworn in as India’s 15th prime minister by President Pranab Mukherjee.

The swearing-in ceremony was attended by eight foreign leaders, most prominent of them being Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, Mauritius Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, and Bangladesh Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury were the other dignitaries present. This was the first time ever when foreign leaders attended the inauguration of an Indian prime minister.

Secondly, never before an Indian premier’s oath-taking ceremony was attended by so many people. With over 4,000 attendees, it was so huge that it had to be held at the forecourt of the President’s House.

After Modi, 45 ministers — including seven women — also took oath. The BJP has taken all top portfolios. The party president Rajnath Singh will be Modi’s number 2 in government as home minister. He was followed by Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley.

Veterans like L.K. Adavni and Murli Manohar Joshi, were present at the ceremony but absent from the list of ministers. Advani may well be accommodated as speaker of the lower house.
Modi has pledged to head a lean Cabinet with a focus on “minimum government and maximum governance.”

Within minutes of his swearing-in, a new website of the Prime Minister’s Office was launched with a short first message from Modi: “On 16th May 2014 the people of India gave their verdict. They delivered a mandate for development, good governance and stability. As we devote ourselves to take India’s development journey to newer heights, we seek your support, blessings and active participation. Together we will script a glorious future for India. Let us together dream of a strong, developed and inclusive India that actively engages with the global community to strengthen the cause of world peace and development.”

Modi promised in his signed message to use the “website as a very important medium of direct communication between us.”

Outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, president and vice president of the Congress party respectively, also attended the function. Interestingly, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif sat next to Manmohan Singh while on Singh’s other side was Hamid Karzai, president of Afghanistan.

Modi’s 95-year-old mother Hiraben watched the proceedings on TV in Gandhinagar.






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