Narendra Modi (front) takes oath as India's 15th prime minister at the presidential palace in New Delhi, India, May 26, 2014. Narendra Modi, the son of a tea-seller, on Monday created history by becoming Indian new prime minister in a grand ceremony attended by his counterpart from arch- rival Pakistan, along with heads of state of other South Asian nations. (Xinhua/Partha Sarkar)
NEW DELHI, May 26 (Xinhua) -- Narendra Modi was Monday sworn in as India's new Prime Minister in a grand ceremony attended by over 4,000 invitees, including his counterpart from rival Pakistan and heads of state of seven other neighboring nations.
The 63-year-old hardline Indian Hindu politician of the Bharatiya Janata Party, who led his party to a landslide victory in the general elections, was administered the oath of office by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee in the forelawn of the presidential palace in the national capital.
"I, Narendra Damodardas Modi, do swear in the name of God that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established," he said in his oath as the 15th prime minister.
Some 45 ministers, who were also sworn in, along with Modi, included BJP president Rajnath Singh and top party leaders like Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj. While Singh got Home Ministry, Jaitley was allotted Finance and Defense Ministries and Swaraj the External Affairs Ministry.
Together, the home, finance, defense and external affairs ministers, along with the Prime Minister, form India's Cabinet Committee on Security.
Moments after being sworn-in, Modi assured to forge a "strong and inclusive" India. "As we devote ourselves to take India's development journey to newer heights, we seek your support, blessings and active participation," he said in a statement published on the prime minister's new official website.
"Together we will script a glorious future for India. 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," he added, pledging to communicate with the people through the website.
Pakistani Premier Nawaz Sharif, Afghan President Hamid Karzai were among the leaders of all seven South Asian nations -- except Bangladesh, represented by its Parliament Speaker -- who attended the ceremony. The leader of Mauritius was also present.
In the nation's Who's Who, Modi's predecessor and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, top industrialists and leading Bollywood actors witnessed the swearing- in ceremony telecast live on news channels across India.
Modi's 95-year-old mother Hiraben could not make it to the Indian capital and she watched her son being sworn in as the prime minister on TV at her home in Gandhinagar, the capital of the western state of Gujarat, which Modi ruled for the last 12 years, before resigning last week to take up the top job.
After the swearing-in, Modi, who had Sunday pledged that he would keep a lean Cabinet with a focus on "minimum government and maximum governance," posed for a group photo with the visiting leaders of the neighboring nations, with President Mukherjee at the center.
Experts say that leaders of India's neighbors attending the swearing-in of this country's new prime minister indicates New Delhi's intention of forging a strong regional alliance, and all eyes are on Sharif who is expected to meet for a bilateral meeting with Modi Tuesday.
"Modi and the BJP have always maintained a hardline stance against Pakistan. But, by inviting Sharif, he has shown his willingness to reach out to Pakistan, despite the two countries having fought at least three major wars in the last 60 years," Delhi-based expert Prof. S.K. Gupta said.
In fact, this is for the first time since India and Pakistan won independence from Britain that a prime minister of one country attended the swearing-in of his counterpart in the other.
"The new India prime minister has already hit a diplomatic masterstroke by inviting leaders of the neighboring nations, particularly Sharif. Now, it will be interesting to see if South Asia emerges as a new power bloc under the leadership of Modi," said another expert Prof Ajay Sharma.
Gupta added: "Time will only judge Modi, the son of a tea- seller who made it to India's top job."
India showcases stronger regional diplomacy at Modi swearing in ceremony
NEW DELHI, May 26 (Xinhua) -- Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was the first foreign head of government who shook hand with newly sworn-in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
After a one-hour-and-an-half solemn ceremony of swearing by the prime minister and his 45-member cabinet, the leaders of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) went to congratulate Modi against the background of the Roman-Indian style brown presidential palace. Full Story