India’s Narendra Modi takes oath as 15th prime minister

NEW DELHI – The leader of India's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, Narendra Modi, became India's 15th prime minister on Monday, taking his oath in front of 4000 guests at the Presidential Palace in India's capital New Delhi.

Modi was followed by 23 members of his cabinet, who also took oaths in the high-profile ceremony that was attended by dignitaries from eight neighboring countries.

The new federal cabinet has a distinctive Modi mark on it, with party founders LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi not included. It is also relatively young, with the exclusion of Najma Heptullah, 74, the lone Muslim face in the prime minister’s cabinet. 

Immediately after Modi was sworn in, the official prime minister's website added a message hailing the new government.  

"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," the message read. "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”. 

Outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was flanked by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whose invitation has been a major talking-point of the ceremony because of the rivalry between Pakistan and India. 

The ceremony was also attended by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani and Bollywood actor Salman Khan. Senior members of right-wing Hindu cultural organizations allied with the BJP were also present, wearing saffron robes symbollic within Hinduism.

Modi’s 95-year-old mother Hiraben watched her son take the oath from her home in Gujarat on live television.

As the grand ceremony came to an end, the dignitaries from eight countries shook hands with Modi and congratulated him. 

Late Sunday night, Modi posted on his Facebook page that he will chair a lean cabinet, following his mantra of “minimum government and maximum governance” a hint that many ministries will be merged for efficiency.

Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency