Narendra Modi, who led BJP to an astounding victory in the Lok Sabha polls, will be sworn in as the Prime Minister tomorrow in the forecourt of the majestic Rashtrapati Bhawan at a grand function to be attended by foreign dignitaries including SAARC leaders.
The swearing-in ceremony of the 14th Prime Minister of India would be attended by nearly 3,000 guests, including top leaders from SAARC countries like Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
President Pranab Mukherjee will administer the oath of office and secrecy to the 63-year-old Modi and his Council of Ministers in the presence of a host of leaders, including outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and party Vice President Rahul Gandhi, besides leaders of various other parties and Chief Ministers of a number of states.
Modi's mother Hiraba is also expected to attend the ceremony.
Besides Sharif and Rajapaksa, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom will be among the foreign dignitaries attending the ceremony. Bangladesh will be represented by Speaker Shirin Chaudhury as Premier Sheikh Hasina would be travelling to Japan at the time of the swearing-in ceremony.
This is the first time that the heads of states of SAARC nations have been invited to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the Indian Prime Minister. Following in the footsteps of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Modi had expressed his desire to be sworn in at the forecourt so that a large number of visitors can be accommodated for the ceremony.
Earlier, Chandrashekar was another Prime Minister who had taken oath at the same venue. The historic Durbar Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhawan is the usual venue for such ceremonies. But since it can accommodate about 500 people, the forecourt was decided as the suitable venue.
Known for his decisiveness and governance skills, Modi will be heading the first government in 30 years where a single party has the absolute majority. It has been a remarkable journey to the top during which he has been pilloried by his critics and adored by his supporters who believe he will pull India out of the rut in which it is stuck.
"I believe God has chosen me," Modi had said in the course of his relentless and focused election campaign that got BJP its highest-ever tally of 282 seats, 10 more than the required majority number in the 543-member Lok Sabha, and catapulted the Gujarat Chief Minister to the pinnacle of power.
The BJP leader himself saw a combination of a very strong anti-Congress wave "together with an equally strong wave for BJP and its NDA partners" during the marathon campaign and seized upon these to decimate the UPA.
A ground-to-air security cover on par with the Republic Day parade is being put in place for the swearing-in. Delhi Police said a multi-layered security ring is being thrown around Raisina Hills and all offices around it will be closed five hours before the event takes place.
"The offices around Rashtrapati Bhavan will be shut at 1 PM following which they will be sanitised by security agencies. The security will be on par with R-Day parade," said a senior police official.
Sources said that IAF will put in place an air defence system to secure the skies and snipers will be deployed on all high-rise buildings around the high-security area. Police said all roads around Raisina Hills that lead to Rashtrapati Bhawan will be barricaded as part of the security measures.
Mobile hit teams, anti-aircraft guns and sharpshooters of NSG will also be deployed besides paramilitary personnel and Delhi Police commandos to secure the area. Arrangements are being made at Rashtrapati Bhawan for all the visiting VVIPs who will also be accompanied by their diplomatic teams, official sources said. Rashtrapati Bhawan is giving the final shape to the preparations, which have been underway for the past few days.
The sprawling forecourt lawns of Rashtrapati Bhawan are ready for the gala swearing-in ceremony. The lawns have been filled with chairs and arrangements are being made for visitors to brave the summer heat in the national capital.
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