President Pranab Mukherjee hands over the letter of appointment as PM to Narendra Modi at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi yesterday, inviting the BJP leader to form the next government. Photo: Press Information Bureau, India
Hindu nationalist leader Narendra Modi, who led his Bharatiya Janata Party to a decisive victory in parliamentary elections, will be sworn in as the 14th prime minister of India on May 26.
Armed with the support of 336 lawmakers of his party and its allies, Modi, 63, met President Pranab Mukherjee, who appointed him as the prime minister, at the Rashtrapati Bhavan yesterday.
Emerging from the meeting with Mukherjee, Modi told waiting media in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan perched on Raisina Hills, “The president has appointed me as PM by law and the swearing-in will take place at the same place on May 26 at 6:00pm (Indian time).
At the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the president and Modi exchanged bouquets and Mukherjee congratulated Modi on his and his party's grand election victory.
Modi's meeting with the president came soon after the former was elected leader of the parliamentary party of the Bharatiya Janata Party at its meeting followed by another of BJP lawmakers and its 29 allies at the central hall of parliament, paving the way to his becoming prime minister of the world's largest democracy.
As he arrived for the meeting of his party MPs, Modi bowed down on the green carpet laid out at the staircase leading inside the parliament building, and touched it with his forehead in deference.
At the venue of the meeting, he touched Advani's feet and the two leaders embraced each other. They repeated the sequence after party MPs chose Modi as their leader.
At the emotionally-charged meeting of BJP parliamentary party, Modi, 63, the son of a tea vendor at a railway station, broke down while delivering the acceptance speech after his election as the leader of the parliamentary party.
Modi's name was proposed ironically by party patriarch LK Advani, 86, who had opposed his elevation to prime ministerial candidate last year, and seconded by other leaders, including Murli Manohar Joshi, M Venkaiah Naidu, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley.
At the BJP parliamentary party meeting, Advani also broke down while embracing Modi moments after the party MPs endorsed his proposal to name the latter their leader.
"I propose the name of the popular and famous Gujarat Chief Minister Narendrabhai Modi as the prime minister of India. I invite Narendra Modi for doing the kripa [kindness] of letting me witness an unforgettable moment in our history," said Advani, a former Deputy Prime Minister.
In his acceptance speech, Modi struggled to hold back tears as he thanked the BJP after being endorsed as the country's next prime minister.
"Please don't use the word kripa while talking about me, Advaniji," he said in a choked voice, addressing the veteran who was seated next to him on the dais. Modi halted for a while for a sip of water and composed himself before continuing with his speech.
Describing India and the BJP as his mother, Modi said "BJP is my mother the way India is my mother. Can a son ever do his mother kripa? Can a son be kind to his mother? Never, a son can only serve his mother. The party is my mother, it has done me the favour of giving me a chance to serve it," he said, his voice again choked with emotion, as he addressed a large audience of newly-elected BJP MPs.
"You see Modi not because Modi's stature is large. You see Modi because party elders have hoisted me on their shoulders", said Modi, adding, “None is above the party and none is bigger than the party”.
Modi's half-an-hour speech in the historic central hall of parliament also began on an emotional note when he recalled that had Atal Bihari Vajpayee been well, “his presence would have completed this moment”, said he.
In a gracious gesture typical of a victor, Modi appreciated “whatever good work” the previous Congress-led UPA government had done during its ten-year tenure from May 2004.
“I don't believe that the UPA government did nothing. They did whatever they could and they deserve appreciation for whatever good they did,” said Modi. The election result has increased people's faith in democracy, said Modi.
The BJP won an absolute majority in the parliamentary polls, securing on its own 282 seats in the 545-member Lok Sabha, becoming the first non-Congress party since independence to get a majority on its own.
Modi, however, said, “I am not doing any favour (by becoming PM) and am only performing a duty. This victory is a result of the struggle of five generations”.
At the separate meeting of parliamentarians of the BJP and its allies, Modi made it clear that although his party had got a majority on its own, it would like to run the government by including all allies.
“For the BJP, its allies are as important today as they would have been had our party not got a majority on its own”, he said.
Modi said there was no need for pessimism going by the bad experience of the past.
“I am a very optimistic man and only an optimistic man can bring about optimism in the country. There is a new hope among people that this dispensation can fulfil their aspirations”, he said, adding he would work for the country and not any post.
Modi asked BJP workers to work for the country and said the electoral mandate given to his party and allies was for the development of the country.