Modi sworn in as India’s 15th prime minister

NEW DELHI: Narendra Modi promised to forge a “strong and inclusive” India on Monday after being sworn in as the 15th prime minister of the world´s largest democracy.

Ten days after his right-wing party won the first electoral majority in three decades, the 63-year-old former tea boy took the oath of office at a lavish ceremony attended by leaders of India´s neighbours, including Pakistan.

“I, Narendra Damodardas Modi, do swear in the name of God that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established,” Modi said at the ceremony conducted by President Pranab Mukherjee.

“I swear that I will uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India and I swear that I will faithfully and conscientiously discharge my duties as prime minister of the Union.”

Modi, leader of the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has a reputation as a hardline Hindu nationalist. But in a statement released as he took the oath, he promised to govern for all of India´s 1.25 billion people.

“As we devote ourselves to take India´s development journey to newer heights, we seek your support, blessings and active participation,” Modi said in the statement on the prime minister´s website.

“Together we will script a glorious future for India,” he added.

“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.”

After Modi took the oath of office, senior BJP figures who have been appointed to his cabinet were sworn into office.

Although their exact portfolios were not announced, they included Sushma Swaraj who is expected to become foreign minister and Arun Jaitley, tipped to be finance minister.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghan President Hamid Karzai were among the regional leaders who attended the ceremony outside the Indian president´s official residence in New Delhi.

Before this, Narendra Modi all set to be sworn-in as the Prime Minister of India on Monday evening, hectic parleys are being held at Gujarat Bhawan over future role of BJP top leaders in the central Cabinet.

While, the list of Narendra Modi’s Cabinet was sent to the Rashtrapati Bhawan today morning, reports suggest that BJP president Rajnath Singh, who successfully stitched pre-poll alliance with other political parties and also pacified senior party leaders on contentious issues like appointment of Modi as BJP’s PM nominee, is expected to get the crucial Home Ministry. But internal security may be taken away from the home ministry and kept with the prime minister’s office.

Meanwhile, reports said that Modi, who often advocated for modernisation of the armed forces during his poll campaign, is expected to retain the crucial portfolio of Defence Ministry with himself.

Former Karnataka chief minister Sadanand Gowda and LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan are expected to be bestowed with Railway Ministry and Consumer Affairs Ministry respectively. Senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad is most likely to be the Law Minister. Earlier, reports said that the Deputy Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha will get the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

The biggest gainer is Modi’s ‘Choti behen’ Smriti Irani, who is most likely to be given the charge of the key ministry, the Human Resource Development (HRD). Smriti considered to be a close aide of the BJP strongman, unsuccessfully contested against Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi from Amethi constituency.

According to news reports 24 Cabinet ministers, 11 Ministers of State and 10 Independent Charges will be sworn-in today.

List of Cabinet Ministers:

Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj, Venkaiah Naidu, Sadanand Gowda, Uma Bharti, Najma Heptullah, Gopinath Munde, Ramvilas Paswan, Kalraj Mishra, Maneka Gandhi, Ananth Kumar, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Ashok Gajapathi Raju, Anant Geete, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Narendra Singh Tomar, Jual Oram, Radha Mohan Singh, Thawar Chand Gehlot, Smriti Irani, Dr Harsh Vardhan

List of MoS (Independent): General VK Singh, Rao Inderjit Singh, Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Shripad Naik, Dharmendra Pradhan, Sarbananda Sonowal, Prakash Javadekar, Piyush Goel, Dr Jitendra Singh and Nirmala Sitharaman

List of MoS: GM Siddeshwara, Manoj Sinha, Upendra Kushwaha, Pon Radhakrishnan, Kiren Rijiju, Krishan Pal Gujjar, Sanjeev Baliyan, Mansukhbhai Dhanjibhai Vasava, Raosaheb Dadarao Patil Danve, Vishnu Dev Sahai and Sudarshan Bhagat Modi’s close confidante and Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley, who contested the Lok Sabha polls from Amritsar constituency, may be awarded with the Finance Ministry. During the 2012 Gujarat Assembly elections, Jaitley had relentlessly worked in the western state to ensure a victory for Modi.

Another senior party leader Sushma Swaraj, who had vehemently opposed Modi’s appointment as BJP’s PM candidate for 2014 General Elections, is expected to get the charge of Foreign Ministry. Sushma is most suited for the Foreign Ministry portfolio given her vast experience in the Parliament in handling critical issues.

Other senior party leaders like Nitin Gadkari may be appointed as the minister of all transport and Dr Harsh Vardhan in all probability is expected to be made the Health Minister.

Other leaders like General VK Singh, Nirmala Sitharaman are expected to bag key Cabinet berths.

However, all eyes would be on how LK Advani is adjusted with honour in the Modi era. Reports say that the BJP patriarch will be given the role of mentor.

Suspense also continues over party veteran Murli Manohar Joshi’s role.

Among the others who are slated to get important positions in the new government are Venkaiah Naidu, Poonam Mahajan, Kirit Somaiya, Kalraj Mishra, Ananth Kumar, Sumitra Mahajan and Satyapal Singh.

The Cabinet is expected to be compact, and restructuring is expected in the government with some ministries likely to be merged.

The focus has been on convergence in the activities of various ministries where one Cabinet minister will be heading a cluster of ministries in complimentary sectors.

TDP sources in Hyderabad however said Pusapati Ashok Gajapathi Raju is likely to be the lone face from the TDP to be inducted into the Union Cabinet.

The BJP-led NDA coalition has returned to power in India led by its prime ministerial aspirant Narendra Modi, ending a decade of Congress-led rule.