The setting was majestic – in the heart of New Delhi, in the precincts of the complex that embodies the essence of the Indian Republic, Rashtrapati Bhawan. The timing was perfect too – as the sun set, the past was left behind and a new regime took over.
But it was the grand audience, which made Narendra Modi’s swearing-in an unprecedented event. Never has the audience been as large or as mixed – with supporters at the heart of the Modi campaign, adversaries, and representatives from South Asian neighbours.
From Kumar Mangalam Birla to Mukesh and Anil Ambani, from Gautam Adani to Sunil Mittal, from Pawan Munjal to Hari Bhartia, corporate India was represented in full strength. The PM has made it clear that the economy would be his primary aim, and India Inc expects to be a partner in the journey. But along side, sat key RSS and VHP leaders, indicating the diverse sources of support the PM would have to manage.
The opposition was represented by Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, revealing that despite a bitter poll campaign, India’s political parties have the maturity to accept democratic traditions. The audience also had erstwhile Modi critics from the media and civil society.
The presence of South Asian leaders reflected a rare moment of democratic convergence in the region. And late at night, Modi tweeted that Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif told him that his mother got “emotional” after seeing visuals on TV of Modi’s mother feeding her son sweets.
The star of the day was clearly Modi. In a sign that he will continue to reach out to the citizens, as Modi took oath, the official website of the Prime Minister of India made a switch immediately, with a message from India’s new PM.