100 Days of Modi Sarkar – Day 1

Day 1 of Modi Sarkar
Day 1 of Modi Sarkar

Modi Sarkar Work - Day 1

A new chapter in India’s tryst with destiny has started. 10 days after declaration of results Narendrabhai Damodardas Modi has been finally sworn in as the 15th Prime Minister of India. Modi sarkar has begun its journey, buoyed by unprecedented excitement and collective hope that “ache din” will finally usher in. By unveiling a relatively lean cabinet and pulling off a diplomatic coup of bringing all the SAARC leaders at one forum, day 1 of the new regime has given positive signs for the future.

Narendra Modi took oath in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhawan along with his team of 45 Ministers, including 7 women. President Pranab Mukherjee administered the oath of secrecy to the council of Ministers. Modi looked sombre in a light-shaded kurta and jacket, ditching the lotus in his lapel which became a trademark in the entire election campaign. Just before taking the oath, Modi tweeted to people, thanking them for their support. He also expressed happiness over the fact that people from various walks of life attended the ceremony.

Indeed the who’s who of India’s corridor of power came to the swearing-in ceremony. From Mukesh Ambani to Salman Khan many non-politicians too were present among the 3,000 odd guests. Captains of industry, doyens of the cultural world – all paid their obeisance to the new order. Putting aside the acrimony of elections, prominent opposition leaders like Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, Mulayam Singh, Omar Abdullah, and Meira Kumar were present to witness history unfolding in front of them. It is a testimony to India’s resolute democracy that the voice of millions can lead to such peaceful transfer of power.

The media, which virtually went into a tizzy mindlessly speculating about possible members (even going on to count the chairs on the dais!) in the Modi government, finally could catch a breath. Although formally portfolios will be allocated tomorrow, news trickled in about the contours of the new cabinet. As widely speculated, the BJP President Rajnath Singh is the designated No. 2 in the Modi cabinet, probably getting the portfolio of Home Ministry. Many believe Sushma Swaraj is lucky to get External Affairs even after not being on best of terms with Modi.

Arun Jaitley, who lost the election, has surprisingly got the responsibility of two of the big four ministries. He has been assigned both the Finance and Defence Portfolios. Whether this is a temporary arrangement or will continue for the next 5 years is yet to be seen. The BJP for years raised the issue of Manmohan Singh never winning people’s support. And now, crucial decisions regarding India’s future will be made by someone who was rejected by the people of Amritsar.

Another politician who lost the election but earned brownie points for putting up a spirited fight against Rahul Gandhi, Smriti Irani has been entrusted with the HRD Ministry. Smriti, at 38, is the youngest minister in the cabinet. Najma Heptullah at 74 is the oldest, and has been probably given the Ministry for Minority Affairs. The new health minister of India in all likelihood is Dr Harshvardhan, and Sadanand Gowda is likely to be the next Rail Minister. Former BJP President Gadkari bagged the Transport portfolio, whereas another former party Chief Venkaiah Naidu got the Parliamentary Affairs and Urban Development portfolio.

According to reports, Ravi Shankar Prasad got the dual responsibility of Telecom and Law Ministry. TV regulars like Piyush Goel, Prakash Javadekar, and Nirmala Sitharaman also got their due share in the cabinet. A separate ministry for preservation of Ganga has been created, with Uma Bharati at its helm. Since Modi kept an age cap of 75 years on ministers, the likes of Murli Manohar Joshi and Lal Krishna Advani got out of race automatically. Among notable exclusions were Rajeev Pratap Rudy, Shahnawaz Hussain, Arun Shourie, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Subramanian Swamy.

The allies expected little, and probably got even less than that from Modi. TDP, Shiv Sena, SAD and LJP got one ministry each. In total, there are 24 Cabinet Ministers, 10 Ministers of State with Independent charges, and the rest are Ministers of State. The Hindi heartland (8 from UP) and Maharashtra (6) have got most prominent representation in the Council of Ministers. South India, excluding Kerala, also has a reasonable share of Ministers.

Surprisingly, Rajasthan, which ensured a clean sweep for the BJP (25 seats) has got only one MoS, perhaps because there are no elections in the state anytime soon. The Bengal BJP will be crestfallen with no representation even after a stunning performance. Modi seems to have tried to keep dynasts out of his ministry but still people like Maneka Gandhi, Harsimrat Badal, Piyush Goel have made the cut. The inclusion of the likes of Kalraj Mishra and Ram Vilas Paswan somewhat dents the message of freshness Modi tried to bring in his cabinet.

Just merely 20 seconds after Modi took oath, the new-look website of the PMO was up and running. It carried Modi’s message of scripting a glorious future for India. The newly sworn in PM said in his message, “Let us together dream of a strong, developed and inclusive India that actively engrosses with the global community”. The professional manner in which Modi ran his campaign was clearly visible even on this sarkari website.

Almost in every part of India, BJP supporters were delirious with joy, celebrating the oath-taking ceremony of its first majority government. World leaders from President Obama to Chinese Premier congratulated the newly sworn-in Prime Minister of India.

Modi, though, doesn’t have any time to bask in his glories. Tomorrow he has meetings lined up with all the leaders from the SAARC countries, though expectedly his rendezvous with Sharif will be most keenly watched. Sharif has so far made all the right noises, saying that he wants to pick up the thread from where he left it in 1999. Sharif even says that it is time to look beyond the riots of 2002. The Pakistan PM, in an interview, said that he wants talks to resume and gave indications that India may finally be conferred the Most Favoured Nation status in trade relations. In a message to the new government, Sharif has also decided not to hold any meeting with the separatist groups.

Modi has surely started on the right note, but the path ahead is full of treacherous bends. Naysayers are just round the corner, ready to find fault. It is up to him to thrive under pressure and live up to the expectation. We will be having a close watch on Modi government’s work and also its effect on the economic parameters.

Finally, a look at key economic indicators on the very first day . . .

Indicators Value Rise/Fall
Sensex 24716.88  +23.53
Nifty 7359.05 -8.05
Dollar/ Rupee 58.71 -0.19
Gold (Price in Mumbai) 27,860 (10 gm) +1.02%

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One Year of Modi Sarkar
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