India’s 15th prime minister: Narendra Modi vows to script new history as PM

Published: May 27, 2014
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Narendra Modi shakes hands with Nawaz Sharif after taking oath as India’s PM in New Delhi. PHOTO: REUTERS

Narendra Modi shakes hands with Nawaz Sharif after taking oath as India’s PM in New Delhi. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI: 

Narendra Modi was sworn in as India’s 15th prime minister in an elaborate ceremony at the resplendent presidential palace on Monday, after a sweeping election victory that ended two terms of rule by the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty.

Millions of Indians watched the inauguration live on television as the 63-year-old Hindu nationalist leader took oath of office along with his cabinet members in the palace’s forecourt.

The low-caste son of a tea stall-owner, Modi has given India its first parliamentary majority after 25 years of coalition governments, which means he has ample room to advance reforms which started over two decades ago but have stalled in recent years.

Invited to his swearing-in ceremony were a host of leaders from across South Asia, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who arrived at the ceremony hailing a “great moment and a great opportunity” for peace in the region.

Soon after his oath, Modi said the election had delivered a mandate for “development, good governance and stability” “ – avoiding any reference to the Hindu nationalist plank of his party’s election manifesto.

In a message released on a revamped website of the Indian prime minister, he said, “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.”

Pro-business Modi unveiled a sharply reduced government of 46 members including seven women, a cut of 25 from that of his predecessor Manmohan Singh, to speed up decision-making and slash India’s notorious bureaucracy.

Senior members in his government are Arun Jaitley, tipped as finance minister, Sushma Swaraj, likely to be foreign minister, and Rajnath Singh, who is lined up for the home portfolio.

The inclusion of figures such as Uma Bharti, a hardliner once expelled from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after accusing the party of abandoning core Hindu concerns, indicated that the religious right would retain some influence.

PM Nawaz at the ceremony

PM Nawaz sat among other leaders of South Asia at the ceremony. Modi had a warm and cordial handshake with the prime minister after the oath-taking.

In a brief chat with some Indian news channels, PM Nawaz said he would, in his bilateral meeting today (Tuesday), assure Modi that the 26/11 trial would be speeded up.

He told Headlines Today news channel that Pakistan favours resumption of dialogue, not necessarily the composite dialogue structure. He also said he would not meet the separatist Kashmiri Hurriyat leaders during this visit and will seek to upgrade bilateral talks above secretary level.

Modi’s decision to invite PM Sharif for his inauguration and bilateral talks today came as a surprise and raised hopes for a thaw in relations between the rivalling neighbours.

Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena, which is viscerally opposed to Pakistan, not only participated in the oath-taking ceremony but permitted its only ministerial candidate, Anant Geete, to take oath. After a decade of left-leaning Congress party rule, Modi is expected to move India firmly to the right in the next five years with a mantra of “minimum government, maximum governance”.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 27th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • PREM
    May 27, 2014 - 3:49AM

    A great gesture by Mr Nawaz Sharif to attend the oath taking ceremony of Mr Narendra Modi.
    I am sure the relations between the estranged neighbors will & must improve for the benefit of the poor masses of the two countries who share a common past.We are family & must live & let live. New slogan by me — INDIA PAKISTAN FRIENDS FOREVER.

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  • Gul
    May 27, 2014 - 3:52AM

    If Hafiz Saeed is elected PM of Pakistan, will Modi attend his swearing-in ceremony?

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  • ModiFied
    May 27, 2014 - 5:31AM

    Picture speaks thousand words. Look how humble Modi looks in the picture while shaking hands with Mr Sharif. Most pragmatic solution of Kashmir problem is to convert LOC into an international border. Can Pakistan sell this solution to Jihadis? If yes, problem can be solved within no time.

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  • ravi s
    May 27, 2014 - 6:07AM

    plz get ur facts right. 6 women out of 24 cabinet ministers. rest are MoS and MoS-I

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  • harkol
    May 27, 2014 - 6:26AM

    How I wish Sharif is indeed a fully empowered PM in Pakistan. Even if he wanted to make a breakthru Pak army would break it – as in 1998/Kargil.

    For a true breakthrough Pakistan will need to find a way to get full control of Army under civilians.

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  • Raj
    May 27, 2014 - 6:26AM

    @Gul
    You have a point.
    But then if Pakistan elects Hafiz Saeed as its PM, the rest of the world may decide there should not be a country called Pakistan any more. Have you thought of that. Just ignore the small Indians.

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  • Gp65
    May 27, 2014 - 6:29AM

    Minor correction. The cabinet has 23 people. The rest are ministers with independent charge qnd ministers of state. Of the 23 cabinet rank ministers, 5 are women – 3 of them being non-Hindus (1 Muslim and 2 Sikhs) – fyi for those readers who are religiously minded. Of course in India no one has commented on that because their religion is irrelevant.

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  • Takoo
    May 27, 2014 - 7:23AM

    A peaceful & prosperous India is good for Pakistan

    AND

    A peaceful & prosperous Pakistan is good for India.

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  • Mirza
    May 27, 2014 - 8:20AM

    Why is Modi not dictated by his armed forces? As a Pakistani I am envious of Indian democracy and loyalty of its armed forces. We have a choice follow progressive and fast developing country or likes of Egypt.

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  • Ali
    May 27, 2014 - 8:43AM

    @Raj:
    Lol! I know you guys look at the rest of the world to fulfill your 67 year old dream.

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  • Ali
    May 27, 2014 - 8:44AM

    @Gp65: Their religion only becomes relevant when these communities are mass murdered.

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  • Timorlane
    May 27, 2014 - 9:22AM

    and he has the experience and expertise of mass slaughter of innocent unarmed children, women and men belonging to minority by armed terrorists and state forces top do so

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  • sharabi
    May 27, 2014 - 10:34AM

    @ModiFied
    Sorry mate me as an Indian can not agree on this particular solution.
    Kashmir is Integral Part of Republic of India.

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  • Dhanish
    May 27, 2014 - 10:40AM

    @gul no comparison modi never did a “mumbai” to pakistan. But he did one to us. So he don’t attend.
    @ali we dint need the world for all three wars we won, won’t need it in the future too. So dream on. “Mass murderer” this coming from a country who revers a person who directly called for it and resulted in more death. Anyway we care less about what your country opinion is.

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  • Jun 6, 2014 - 3:00PM

    Nice

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