India will get its 15th Prime Minister on Monday evening when Narendra Damodardas Modi, 63, takes oath at the biggest-ever swearing-in ceremony Rashtrapati Bhavan has seen.
The four-term chief minister of Gujarat – who achieved the first single-party majority in the Lok Sabha in 30 years – takes over from the Congress-led UPA, which ran a coalition government for a record 10 years.
The ceremony starts at 6pm and is likely to go on for an hour. The Prime Minister-designate is expected to arrive at Rashtrapati Bhavan in his favourite Scorpio, wearing his trademark short-sleeve kurta and jacket. But before that, he will visit Rajghat in the morning to pay tribute to Mahatma Gandhi.
In the run-up to the big event, Modi spent Sunday meeting several political leaders and bureaucrats at Gujarat Bhawan. For most of the day, the focus was squarely on his cabinet, with sources saying some ministers from alliance partners like the Telugu Desam Party and Akali Dal might take oath on Monday along with Modi and the BJP members. Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik and his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee have decided to skip the function but are likely to send representatives.
It will also be the first swearing-in to see representatives from foreign embassies and high commissions based in Delhi. Modi — who takes charge amid soaring expectations and formidable challenges, especially in reviving the economy — has already surprised many by inviting, for the first time, heads of state from the neighbouring countries, including Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif.
The presence of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has led to protests among the BJP’s own allies, such as the MDMK and PMK. Sources said it was still unclear if Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa and the MDMK and PMK brass would attend the ceremony.
Detailed plans — involving dozens of agencies and thousands of officials and workers — have been laid to ensure the function goes off smoothly and elegantly. Security will be tight and a massive cordon will be set up around Rashtrapati Bhavan and its neighbouring areas that will be off-limits to the general public from Monday afternoon.