The biggest ever oath-taking ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhavan on May 30 was indeed the People’s Ceremony, as it was joined not only by over 8,000 ordinary BJP workers, the victims of political violence in West Bengal, family members of the soldiers martyred in Pulwama terror attack, but also by the bigwigs from business world and the film industry. The new Cabinet presents a mix of seasoned parliamentarians and skilled professionals
When the Sun was slowly setting down on the evening of May 30, 2019, India was preparing for a new unprecedented sunrise in the political history of the nation. Riding on a newly-minted ‘Pro-incumbency Wave’ in the just concluded general elections, Shri Narendra Damodardas Modi along with his Council of Ministers took the oath of office and secrecy to take Bharat to a new height of development and restoring her pristine glory among the encomium of the world. It was coincident that the date of the swearing-in ceremony marked the 110th anniversary of Maharishi Aurobindo’s historic Uttarpara Speech, which set out his vision for new Bharat.
Glittering Tri-colour Lighting
As the daylight slowly faded away during the the oath ceremony, the colourful lighting at Rashtrapati Bhavan and Jaipur Column presented a glittering tri-colour backdrop. The Majestic Rashtrapati Bhavan wore a festive look for this biggest ever ceremony held at the sprawling forecourt. It was for the fourth time that the swearing-in ceremony of the Prime Minister was held at this forecourt. It was held in 1990 when Shri Chandra Shekhar became PM and the second time in 1998 when Shri AB Vajpayee took the oath of office and secrecy as PM. The third time Shri Modi took the oath in 2014. More than 8,000 guests were witness to the grand ceremony. A number of heads of states, heads of governments, constitutional authorities, diplomats, senior political leaders and government officials attended the ceremony. Chief Ministers and Governors of several states also joined.
President Shri Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu with Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and the members of his Council of Ministers after the swearing-in ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan on May 30, 2019
Heads of BIMSTEC
The heads of BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) which includes Bangladesh, Myanmar Thailand, Kyrgyz Republic, Mauritius, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Nepal joined the ceremony. They included President of Bangladesh Abdul Hamid, Shri Lankan President Maithiripala Sirisena, Prime Minister of Nepal Shri KP Sharma Oli, President of Myanmar Shri U Win Myint and Bhutanese Prime Minister Shri Lotay Tshering. From Thailand, the Special Envoy Shri Grisada Boonrach represented the country. Mauritius Prime Minister Shri Pravind Kumar Jugnauth and Kyrgyzstan President Shri Sooronbay Jeenbekov also participated.
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi along with his cabinet paying respect to the people of India after the swearing-in ceremony
Veteran BJP leaders Shri LK Advani and Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, UPA Chairperson Smt Sonia Gandhi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, former PM Dr Manmohan Singh, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and some other distinguished leaders were seated in the front row. Industrialist Mukesh Ambani, Bollywood stars Anupam Kher, Kangana Ranaut, Karan Johar, Shahid Kapoor, Vivek Oberoi, Jitendra and Rajnikanth also attended the ceremony.
“This team is a blend of youthful energy and administrative experience. It has people who have excelled as Parliamentarians and those who have had distinguished professional careers. Together, we will work for India’s progress.” —PM Modi on his Cabinet Attired in his sharp churidar-kurta and a light colour jacket, Shri Modi reached the forecourt about 15 minutes before the arrival of the President Shri Ram Nath Kovind. He was greeted by loud cheers of ‘Modi... Modi...’ Cheers and rounds of applauses were also heard when BJP president Shri Amit Shah arrived. The oath ceremony began sharp at 7.00 pm and concluded at 9.00 pm.
Fine Balance of Young & Old
Shri Modi created history by becoming the first non-Congress Prime Minister to head the BJP-led NDA government with its own full majority in the Lok Sabha. The new cabinet represented a mix of seasoned parliamentarians and fresh faces. During the two-hour long oath ceremony, a total of 58 ministers were administered the oath of office and secrecy by President Shri Kovind. The new cabinet included 25 Cabinet rank ministers including the Prime Minister, nine Minister of State with independent charge and 24 Ministers of State. However, the new team did not have seasoned leaders like Shri Arun Jaitley and Smt Sushma Swaraj who preferred to stay out of the cabinet on health grounds. Smt Maneka Gandhi and Shri Suresh Prabhu are also not part of the cabinet this time.
Family members of the BJP workers, killed by TMC goons in West Bengal, at the swearing-in ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhavan on May 30, 2019
The new Council of Ministers presented a fine balance of young and the old. Shri Modi also took care of the allies by accommodating them in his cabinet. Akali Dal leader Smt Harsimrat Kaur Badal took oath as Cabinet Minister. Along with Smt Badal, Smt Nirmala Sitharaman and Smt Smriti Irani also took oath as Cabinet Ministers. Smt Irani emerged as ‘giant killer’ as she defeated the Congress president Rahul Gandhi in his family bastion Amethi. Her victory demolished Gandhi family stronghold in the heart of Uttar Pradesh. The 17th Lok Sabha has an all-time high of 78 women MPs. There were 61 women MPs in the 16th Lok Sabha in 2014.
Healing the Wounds
During the celebration of election victory, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) did not forget the supreme sacrifice made by its workers in West Bengal and the family members of the soldiers who were martyred in Pulwama terror attack. Their family members were specially invited for the swearing-in ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan on May 30. About 54 BJP workers were allegedly killed by the ruling TMC workers prior to the polls in West Bengal. Among the killings, three scenes were horrible where the victim’s bodies were hung from the tree to show the brutality of politics in West Bengal.
“I had lost my husband, Gulal Kumar. He was brutally killed for working for the BJP. The BJP has extended us full help. Now by inviting us here at Rashtrapati Bhavan the party has accorded us the highest respect. We are moved by it. But I want stern punishment to those who killed my husband and made me to live the life of a widow,” says Smt Manika who came from Purulia, West Bengal along with her brother-in-law Krishnapad Kumar.
For young Pankaj Mandal, who lost his father Damodar Mandal in the political violence in Purulia, it was unprecedented respect that the BJP accorded to his family. During the clash, Damodar Mandal was killed in police firing. “We want to get rid of political violence in West Bengal. We hope Shri Modi will do it in the coming Assembly polls,” adds Pankaj Mandal. Prasenjit Tudu also lost his father on May 11, 2018 in Purulia. He too wants justice. Molina Roy from West Medinipur lost her husband Sujit Ram in the violence. Father of Matal Digar was hit by a rod by TMC activists at Jhargram.
All the 50-odd family members of the BJP workers who were martyred in the political violence in the state are satisfied with the assistance offered by the BJP to them, but they want the culprits to be punished. They know that it would not happen under Mamata’s reign of terror. Hence, they hope Mamta Bannerjee would be thrown out of power in the coming Assembly polls.
Former Foreign Secretary Dr S. Jaishankar who was also India’s Ambassador to Beijing and Washington was included in the cabinet as a Cabinet Minister. The BJP allies who were given Cabinet berths included Shri Ram Vilas Paswan of Lok Janshakti Party and Shri Arvind Sawant of the Shiv Sena. Shri Ramdas Athawale of Republican Party of India (RPI) was given the Minister of State Rank. Riding on a massive mandate of 303 seats on its own in the 17th Lok Sabha and the NDA’s tally went at 353, Shri Modi became the 15th Prime Minister of the world’s largest democracy.
In his Tweet after the oath ceremony, Shri Modi described his new cabinet thus: This team is a blend of youthful energy and administrative experience. It has people who have excelled as Parliamentarians and those who have had distinguished professional careers. Together, we will work for India’s progress.”
President Shri Kovind had appointed Shri Narendra Modi as Prime Minister on May 25 after a delegation of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by BJP president Shri Amit Shah and comprising of Shri Prakash Singh Badal, Shri Rajnath Singh, Shri Nitish Kumar, Shri Ram Vilas Paswan, Smt Sushma Swaraj, Shri Uddhav Thackeray, Shri Nitin Gadkari, Shri K. Palaniswami, Shri Conrad Sangma and Shri Neiphiu Rio called on the President at Rashtrapati Bhavan. The delegation handed over a letter to the President stating that Shri Narendra Modi was elected leader of the BJP Parliamentary Party. Then exercising powers vested in him under Article 75(1) of the Constitution of India, the President appointed Shri Modi to the office of PM of India.
Earlier in the day, prior to taking oath as PM for a second consecutive term, Shri Modi paid tributes to Mahatma Gandhi and BJP veteran the late Atal Behari Vajpayee. He also placed a wreath at the National War Memorial adjoining India Gate. He visited Rajghat around 7 am. Later, he went to ‘Sadaiv Atal’, the lotus-shaped memorial of Vajpayeeji. BJP president Shri Amit Shah & some other leaders also accompanied him.