Narendra Modi sworn in as Gujarat Chief Minister at grand ceremony; Jayalalithaa, Raj Thackeray among A-listers present
Ahmedabad: Narendra Modi took oath as Gujarat Chief Minister at a grand ceremony attended by many A-listers, including J Jayalalithaa, the Thackeray cousins, Raj and Udhav, Bollywood actors and the BJP's chief ministers and top leaders. But Bihar, which Mr Modi's party rules along with ally Janata Dal(United), was markedly under-represented. (Team Modi sworn in: Profiles)
Not only did Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of the JD(U) skip Mr Modi's coronation - expected, given the open animosity between the two leaders - but so did Sushil Modi, Mr Kumar's number 2 in government and a BJP man. Mr Modi pleaded that prior engagements have kept him in Patna today.
Mr Modi's big victory last week is seen by his many supporters as a stepping stone towards a bigger political role at the national level, even perhaps as the BJP's candidate for Prime Minister in 2014. But the JD(U) has made clear that it does not share that enthusiasm or vision; Mr Kumar has repeatedly said that any move by the BJP to foist Mr Modi as a candidate for PM of the National Democratic Alliance that it leads, will result in a divorce between the two partners of many years.
But the win that he delivered last week in the Gujarat Assembly elections has only reinforced Mr Modi's star status within his party and indeed in the NDA, and the Gujarat Chief Minister drew attention to the many leaders now crowding a massive stage at the Sardar Patel stadium in Ahmedabad, which has been readied to accommodate about 100,000 people today. As he left home to be sworn in, he invited an even bigger audience, posting on Twitter, "Glad to see love of so many people & the presence of distinguished leaders. Watch LIVE," with a link added to a live webcast of the event.
The JD(U) apart, other NDA allies were there; Parkash Singh Badal of the Akali Dal is attended and so did Shiv Sena chief Udhav Thackeray. Maharashtra Narvnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray, who is seen as close to Mr Modi, flew in yesterday with his wife and son.
In a purple sari, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, seated next to the BJP's Sushma Swaraj, gets star billing. Ms Jayalalithaa's party the AIADMK is not a member of the NDA, but the BJP has assiduously wooed her for many months now.
The top leaders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS, the ideological mentor of the BJP and the organisation in which Mr Modi cut his political teeth, have skipped the ceremony, but they were not there in 2007 either. The Sangh is represented by some leaders of the Gujarat RSS. Mr Modi has reportedly earned the displeasure of the RSS in recent days, though he did make attempts to reach out when he met senior RSS leaders after his victory in the Gujarat elections last week.
There was no lack of saffron though at today's ceremony. Senior leaders of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, like Ashok Singhal, attended, as did several religious leaders.
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