Modi takes oath as PM for second term

Narendra Modi took over as the country’s Prime Minister for a second term on Thursday after he was sworn in along with other Union ministers including BJP president Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari and former foreign secretary S Jaishankar, a surprise pick.

Modi, 68, was administered the oath of office and secrecy by President Ram Nath Kovind at a glittering ceremony at the forecourt of majestic Rashtraparti Bhavan.

“Honoured to serve India!” tweeted Modi after taking the oath for the second consecutive term.

Apart from Shah, Singh, Gadkari, the other top leaders who were sworn-in as Union ministers included D V Sadananda Gowda, Nirmala Sitharaman and Ram Vilas Paswan.

While the inclusion of Shah, seen as BJP’s key strategist who helped the party to expand its base after taking over the reins of the party in 2014, was much speculated, Jaishankar, considered close to Modi, was a surprise pick.

Some of the key ministers in the previous Modi government, including Sushma Swaraj, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and Maneka Gandhi were not part of the new council of ministers.

Former finance minister Arun Jaitley had written to Modi on Wednesday and said that he didn’t want to be a part of the new government due to health reasons.

Top opposition leaders including former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Rahul Gandhi and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, corporate honchos, film stars, chief ministers and a galaxy of leaders from BIMSTEC countries were part of the nearly 8,000 guests at the ceremony.

Others who took oath of office, included Narendra Singh Tomar, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Thanwar Chand Gehlot, Ramesh Pokhriyal, Arjun Munda, Smriti Irani, Harsh Vardhan, Prakash Javadekar, Piyush Goyal, Dharmendra Pradhan, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Prahlad Joshi, Mahendra Nath Pandey and Giriraj Singh.

This is the second time Modi took the oath at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan. Modi was sworn in by the then President Pranab Mukherjee in 2014 in the presence of over 3,500 guests including the heads of SAARC countries.

Earlier, Chandra Shekhar in 1990 and Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1999 were sworn in at the sprawling forecourt.

Leaders of BIMSTEC countries including President of Bangladesh Abdul Hamid, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, President of Myanmar U Win Myint and Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering also attended the gala event.

From Thailand, its Special Envoy Grisada Boonrach represented the country.  Besides India, BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) comprises Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan as members.

Kyrgyz President and current chair of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov, and Mauritius PM Pravind Kumar Jugnauth also attended the event.