New Delhi (IANS): President Pranab Mukherjee Tuesday formally appointed Narendra Modi as the next prime minister of India after the latter met him, along with senior leaders of his party and the National Democratic Alliance, and staked claim to forming a government. He will take his oath next Monday, May 26, as India’s 14th prime minister.
The oath-taking will take place in the expansive forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan and will be telecast live to the nation. It would be the first time, as Modi himself pointed out, that someone from the post-Independence generation would lead the country.
“Narendra Modi, Leader of the BJP parliamentary party, called on the president today. As Narendra Modi has been elected leader of the BJP Parliamentary Party and BJP has the majority support in the House of the People, the president appointed Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister of India and requested him to advise the names of others to be appointed members of the council of ministers,” a communique from the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the presidential palace, said.
“The President will administer the Oath of Office and Secrecy on May 26, 2014 at 6 p.m. at Rashtrapati Bhavan,” the statement added.
Earlier, in an emotional yet euphoric moment at the Central Hall of Parliament House, Modi was unanimously elected leader of the BJP parliamentary party where he talked of “era of responsibility and hope” and said he would not disappoint his party or the country.
Addressing the party MPs and other leaders in the Central Hall, which he visited for the first time and on the steps of which he went down on his knees in reverence to the ‘temple of democracy’, Modi said the majority given to the BJP in the Lok Sabha was “a vote for hope and faith” and said his rise from humble origins was a tribute to the greatness of Indian democracy.
“A government should be one that works for the poor and this is why the new government is committed to the poor of the country and dedicated to the youth of the country as well as our mothers and daughters,” said Modi.
In his 30-minute speech, Modi, who helped his father as a tea vendor in a small town in his native Gujarat, stressed he should not be seen above the party and credited the stunning electoral victory to its organizational strength.
Modi became emotional and broke down when he responded to party veteran L.K. Advani’s remarks that he had done a favour by leading the BJP in the election, a move that Advani had initially opposed.
“Please don’t use the word ‘kripa’ (favour),” Modi said, referring to Advani’s earlier remark that Modi had done a favour to the party in helping in its impressive win.
He paused for a few minutes, had a sip of water and then continued. “A son doesn’t do a favour to his mother. A son works with dedication. I treat the BJP as my mother just as India is my mother,” said Modi, almost breaking down.
“The party has done me a favour by giving me an opportunity to serve.”
“The celebrations, excitement will go on but the era of responsibility has begun.”
Modi’s name was proposed by party elder Advani and seconded by other senior leaders including Murli Manohar Joshi, M. Venkaiah Naidu, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley.
As Modi spoke, he was repeatedly cheered with thumping of desks. There were moist eyes with Advani also admitting that he was overwhelmed by the occasion. The BJP is returning to power after ten long years.
The BJP parliamentary party meeting was followed by that of the party-led National Democratic Alliance in which several of the 29 allies felicitated Modi.
Modi later met President Mukherjee and staked claim to forming the government.
The Modi-led BJP won a staggering 282 seats in the 545-member Lok Sabha, becoming the first non-Congress party since Independence to get a majority on its own. The Congress fell to an embarrassing tally of 44 seats, its lowest ever.
In his speech, Modi said the full majority accorded to the party means “hope and trust”.
“This is beginning of hope,” he said.
Modi remembered former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who is ailing, the freedom fighters and leaders who had drafted the constitution.
Referring to his humble origins, Modi said it was due to democracy in the country that he was “in the Central Hall today”.
Modi said he never felt dejected. “Only optimistic people can enthuse others. We have to leave pessimism,” an allusion perhaps to the mood of despondency that had been prevailing in the country in the last couple of years.
He said the BJP workers will have to dedicate themselves to the service of the 1.25 billion people of the country.
Calling himself a disciplined soldier and vowing to work for the “poorest of the poor”, Modi said he would present his government’s report card in 2019, exactly five years from now.
“We did not get the chance to die for the country but people have given us a chance to live for the country. Every second and each part of the body should be used in the service of the country,” Modi said in a rousing speech delivered extempore.
Modi said he accepted the responsibility given to him. “You will never get an opportunity to look down on what my government will do.”
BJP president Rajnath Singh described the moment as historic, and said this heralded an era in Indian politics that was dominated by the BJP, with all other parties pushed to a distant second as “others”.
“This is an unprecedented, historic moment. Although the Janata Party secured a majority in 1977 and ousted the Congress, it was a conglomeration of various parties. The BJP is the first (non-Congress) party which has achieved this feat on its own,” Singh said adding that it had made inroads in states such as Kerala and West Bengal where it had been a non-entity in the past.
Following the meeting of the NDA, Modi was elected leader of the alliance in the Lok Sabha.