New Delhi: Narendra Modi was today sworn in as India’s 15th Prime Minister in the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, home of President Pranab Mukherjee, who administered the oath. Present among the almost 4000 guests at the grand ceremony were leaders from eight neighbouring countries, including Pakistan.
Even as his 45 ministers took oath after him at the presidential palace, a new website of the Prime Minister’s Office was launched with a short first message from Mr 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,” the new PM said.
He promised in his signed message to use the “website as a very important medium of direct communication between us.”
Mr Modi’s 95-year-old mother Hiraben could not make it to Delhi and watched her son being sworn in as Prime Minister on television at her home in Gandhinagar.
At the ceremony, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif sat next to Mr Modi’s predecessor, Manmohan Singh. On Dr Singh’s other side was Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan.
BJP president Rajnath Singh will be Mr Modi’s number 2 in government as Home Minister and took oath immediately after him. He was followed by senior BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley. Mr Jaitley will be Finance Minister and will also have the additional charge of Defence.
Ms Swaraj will be Minister for External Affairs. There are 23 ministers of Cabinet rank, 10 Ministers of State with Independent charge and 12 Ministers of State in the new union council of ministers. The oldest is Najma Heptulla, 74, the youngest Smriti Irani, 38.
On Sunday night, Mr Modi promised that he would head a lean Cabinet with a focus on “minimum government and maximum governance”. He is expected to merge and restructure several ministries.