Modi Sworn In, Congress Boycotts Ceremony

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Ahmedabad: Narendra Modi has been sworn in as the Chief Minister of Gujarat for the second time today. Governor Sundar Singh Bhandari administered the oath of office.

In a departure from protocol, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani attended the function in Ahmedabad. Nine cabinet ministers and six ministers of state were also sworn in.

The Congress, however, boycotted the swearing-in ceremony, protesting against extravagance in a drought-hit state.

The ministers who were sworn in the Modi cabinet are: Narrottam Patel, Mangu Patel, Anandiben Patel, Bhupendra Sinh Chudasma, Kaushik Patel, Vaju bhai Vala, IK Jadeja and Raman Vohra.

The ministers of state include Amit Shah, Anil Patel, Bhavku Undhadh, Saurabh Patel, Dilip Thakore and Prabhat Sinh Chauhan.

BJP chief M Venkaiah Naidu, party Chief Ministers Babulal Marandi and Manohar Parrikar, Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala, former Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal, industrialist Anil Ambani and Bollywood star Juhi Chawla along with a number of union ministers attended the function.

Thrust forth

From BJP’s backroom boy to a mass leader in 12 months, Narendra Modi has single-handedly driven Gujarat’s political agenda over the past year.

Just a year ago, Modi, a former RSS pracharak was parachuted into the state as Chief Minister after the BJP suffered a string of electoral reverses under Keshubhai Patel.

Modi, who until then, had been a hardcore organizational man, had never fought an election. Now he was being asked to ensure that the BJP retain its hold on Gujarat.

“I have been directed to meet the state BJP President and Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel. I am doing just that,” Modi has said then.

Dramatic events

On February 24, Modi was elected from Rajkot-2, his first election victory, though with a largely reduced margin. Three days later, on February 27, the Godhra incident took place. Gujarat’s politics was transformed and Modi took centrestage.

Criticized for not doing enough to stop the riots that followed Godhra, Modi even offered to resign in April at the BJP conclave in Goa, only to be given a vote of confidence by the party.

“The people of Gujarat have been hurt. A vicious campaign has been launched against five crore Gujaratis. Under the circumstances, if things improve by my going, then so be it,” Modi had said, offering to step down.

Hardcore Hindutva

However, with the party behind him, Modi went into election mode. Even though the Election Commission refused to oblige him with a snap poll, it didn’t stop Modi from taking an aggressive Hindutva campaign to new heights.

“I cannot forget that scene. That day on Godhra platform, I pledged that I would protect the honour of five crore Gujaratis,” Modi has said.

After dissolving the state assembly he hit the streets with his Gaurav Yatra.

While the rhetoric made him a hate figure for many, Modi made a dramatic impact on the electorate in a highly polarized atmosphere – proof of which came with the landslide verdict in his favour.

But now comes his real challenge – whether he can move from a Hindutva hero to a leader who can provide the healing touch in Gujarat.


By Nalin Mehta in www.ndtv.com - December 22, 2002
http://www.ndtv.com