As the sun went down behind the majestic dome of the Rashtrapati Bhawan, Narendra Damodardas Modi took oath in the name of God as the 15th prime minister in the presence of of seven SAARC leaders
and the country's who's who.
In the front row were Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapakse and other SAARC heads of state.
Along with Modi, 23 others took oath of office and secrecy as cabinet ministers, 10 as ministers with independent charge and 12 as ministers of state. The cabinet includes Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Venkaiah Naidu and Nitin Gadkari. Officially, no portfolios have been allotted.
Only two cabinet ministers – Najma Heptullah and Kalraj Mishra – were born before Independence.
For Gadkari, it will be a sort of the birthday gift on May 27, when he turns 58. Of the 45 council of ministers, 36 took oath in Hindi and the rest in English.
The Union Cabinet has the Modi stamp. He has neither given in to alloting ministerial quota in proportion with the number of MPs an ally has nor to accommodating sons and daughters of party leaders.
In the previous NDA government, allies were given one cabinet berth for four MPs. Despite winning many more seats than the Lok Janshakti Party, the Telugu Desam Party and the Shiv Sena are on the same page as the
Ram Vilas Paswan-led LJP and Upendra Kushwaha's Rashtriya Lok Samata Party.
In another departure, Modi has given no space for dynastic politics, keeping out sons and daughters of prominent politicians from his team of ministers.
Poonam Mahajan (daughter of late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan), Jayant Sinha (son of senior party leader Yashwant Sinha), Dushyant Singh (son of Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje) and Abhishek Singh (Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh's son) have not found a berth.
It was apparent loyalty that counted. So, Arun Jaitley, despite losing the election, and Singh, the party chief, find prominent place in the cabinet. Swaraj, who may be an exception to the loyalty criteria, is also among the top ministers.
As expected, Nitin Gadkari figures among the cabinet ministers.
Other cabinet ministers are Ramvilas Paswan of Lok Janshakti Party, a BJP ally which won six seats and a Dalit face from Bihar. Yet another Bihar MP who got the thumbs up was Upendra Kushwaha of the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party, which had fought the elections in alliance with BJP.
Another woman MP who figures in the cabinet list is Harsimrat Kaur Badal of the Shiromani Akali Dal. Modi's cabinet also includes "tall leaders" of the BJP who were responsible for the BJP sweeps in Madhya
Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, such as Narendra Singh Tomar, MP from Gwalior.
When he was called to take the oath of office, there was loud cheering and sporadic chants of 'Modi, Modi, Bharat Mata ki Jai' and even 'Jai Sriram' as the democratic carnival spirit invaded Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Hindu sanyasis, Christian padris and Muslim mullahs were quite conspicuous in the curious crowd that turned up for the occasion.
Hema Malini, the dream girl who won from Mathura, walked in wearing a deep blue with Dharmendra. Salman Khan, MS Dhoni and Sunil Gavaskar walked in wearing black suits. The entire Ambani family, Hindujas and Adanis were also present. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was in the front row.
RSS' Suresh Soni and VHP's Ashok Singhal were also present at the swearing-in ceremony.