Modi to take oath on May 30; new allies may find berth

Imran speaks to PM, holds talks

NEW DELHI, May 26: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be administered oath of office for his second term along with his new Council of Ministers on May 30, the President’s Office said today.
President Ram Nath Kovind will administer the oath of office and secrecy to the Prime Minister and other members of the Union Council of Ministers at a ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhavan on Thursday at 7 pm, an official communique said.
Modi is the first BJP leader who has been elected for the second time after completion of his five-year tenure, a feat so far achieved only by two Congress leaders Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi.
From BJP, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was also elected as a Prime Minister for two consecutive terms, but his first stint had lasted only for one year and seven months.
“The President (Ram Nath Kovind) will administer the Oath of Office and Secrecy to the Prime Minister and other members of Union Council of Ministers on 30.05.2019 at 07.00 pm at Rashtrapati Bhavan,” the communiuqe issued by President’s press secretary Ashok Malik said.
Names of the Ministers who would join Modi in his second innings is yet to be disclosed, though there has been speculation about some new members expected to join the Council, including from States like West Bengal that played a key role in the BJP’s massive victory in the just-held Lok Sabha elections.
It was also not immediately clear whether the ceremony will be attended by some world leaders. Modi had stunned everyone during 2014 swearing-in when he had called SAARC leaders, including the then Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif.
The 2014 swearing-in was held at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan with around 2,000 people including foreign dignitaries invited for Modi’s oath ceremony, which was administered by the then President Pranab Mukherjee.
Several global leaders, including Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, US President Donald Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin have congratulated Modi on his resounding victory.
Meanwhile, in their first telephonic conversation after the Balakote airstrikes, Modi told his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan today that creating trust and an environment free of violence and terrorism was essential for fostering peace and prosperity in the region.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said it was Khan who called up Modi to congratulate him on his re-election.
“Modi thanked the Prime Minister of Pakistan for his telephone call and greetings,” it said.
Recalling his initiatives in line with his Government’s “neighbourhood first” policy, Modi referred to his earlier suggestion to Khan to fight poverty jointly, the MEA said.
“He stressed that creating trust and an environment free of violence and terrorism was essential for fostering cooperation for peace, progress and prosperity in our region,” it added.
The telephonic conversation came amid strained bilateral ties since nearly three months following the Pulwama terror attack and India’s subsequent aerial strikes on a terror training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot.
Khan had also congratulated Modi on Twitter last week after the BJP’s massive victory in the general election.
Reiterating his vision for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia, Khan said he looked forward to working with Modi to advance these objectives, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said on Twitter.
Khan also expressed his desire for both countries to work together for the betterment of their peoples, he added.
Modi and Khan are scheduled to meet at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan next month.
After the election results on Thursday, Khan tweeted in both English and Urdu: “I congratulate Prime Minister Modi on the electoral victory of BJP and allies. Look forward to working with him for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia.”
Meanwhile, BJP allies JD (U) and AIADMK are likely to be part of the new Government while it will also reflect the saffron party’s inroads into States like West Bengal and Telangana, sources said today.
A JD (U) leader said the Bihar party expects at least one Cabinet berth in the Government which will be sworn in on May 30. The party may also get one more berth in the Council of Ministers.
Though there has been no official word on likely faces in the new Government, many leaders are of the view that most key members of the previous dispensation will be retained.
There has been speculation that Arun Jaitley, who held the Finance portfolio in the previous Government, may opt out due to health reasons but people close to him have insisted that he has been doing well after undergoing treatment.
The Government today stepped in to insist that reports regarding his heath condition are false and baseless.
“Reports in a section of media regarding Union Minister Arun Jaitley’s health condition are false and baseless. Media is advised to stay clear of rumour mongering,” its principal spokesperson Sitanshu Kar tweeted.
A number of senior faces from the outgoing Cabinet including Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Nirmala Sitharaman, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Piyush Goyal, Narendra Singh Tomar and Prakash Javadekar are expected to figure in the new Cabinet.
Speculation has been rife that BJP president Amit Shah, who won the Lok Sabha election from Gandhinagar with a massive margin, may also join the Government. Shah has refrained from commenting on the matter.
Another BJP ally LJP president Ram Vilas Paswan, sources said, has pushed for induction of his MP-son Chirag Paswan in the Government.
His party LJP won six seats in the polls. Ram Vilas Paswan, one of the most veteran Parliamentarians, was a Cabinet Minister in the last Government.
Though the AIADMK, which was also not part of the previous Government, has won only one seat, it may be given a Ministerial berth as it is in power in Tamil Nadu and a key dravidian ally of the BJP.
The BJP put up its best ever show in West Bengal and Telangana in these elections, winning 18 (from two in 2014) and four seats (from one in 2014) respectively in the two States. This may result in the party giving a greater representation to these States in the Government. (PTI)