Narendra Modi took oath as Prime Minister for a third term at a glittering ceremony in the Rashtrapati Bhawan forecourt along with a 72-member Council of Ministers, wherein the top berths, including Defence, Finance, Foreign affairs, and Home Ministries, are still held by the BJP although it has rolled down the red carpet especially for all its allies barring the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) which has stayed out of the Cabinet formation.

Dressed in a white churidar-kurta and a blue jacket, Modi took the oath in the name of God, becoming only the second Prime Minister after Jawaharlal Nehru to secure a third consecutive term.

The 72-member Council of Ministers includes 30 Cabinet Ministers and five Ministers of State with independent charge, and 36 Ministers of State. The Cabinet has 27 MPs from the OBC category, ten SCs, and five ST ministers. There are about 43 ministers who would be serving their third term under the Prime Minister.

Along with Modi, senior BJP leaders, including Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah, Nitin Gadkari, Nirmala Sitharaman, and S Jaishankar, all ministers in the Modi 2.0 Cabinet, took oaths as cabinet ministers at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

In the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, the BJP failed to win a simple majority, making it dependent on allies whose MPs also took the oath of office as Cabinet ministers: JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy, HAM (Secular) chief Jitan Ram Manjhi, JD(U) leader Rajiv Ranjan Singh ‘Lalan’, TDP’s K Ram Mohan Naidu, and LJP-RV leader Chirag Paswan. Each of these five allies got one cabinet berth each. Kumaraswamy and Manjhi are former chief ministers of Karnataka and Bihar, respectively.

BJP Party president JP Nadda returned to the cabinet after five years, while former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and ex-Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar were the fresh faces in the Modi cabinet.

BJP leaders Piyush Goyal, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Dharmendra Pradhan, and Bhupender Yadav, who were earlier in the Rajya Sabha but have now been elected to the Lok Sabha, were among those retained as ministers.

There were five Ministers of State with independent charge, including Rao Inderjeet Singh, Jayant Chowdhury, Jitender Singh, Arjun Ram Meghwal, and Pratap Rao Jadhav.

Prominent among those who were dropped were Smriti Irani, Anurag Thakur, Rajeev Chandrashekhar, Narayan Rane, and Ashwini Choubey, among 20 others.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), led by Ajit Pawar, was left out of the Cabinet formation. With only one seat in the Lok Sabha, the BJP’s offer of a Minister of State (MoS) position to Pawar’s party was met with discontent, leading the NCP to decide against joining the cabinet.

Clarifying why the party had declined the BJP’s offer of an MoS post, Praful Patel said: “The only issue is a minor misunderstanding. Last night, we received information that our party would get an MoS independent charge, similar to what was offered to other alliance partners. The only difference is that, having been a cabinet minister in the union government before, I see accepting an MoS independent charge as a demotion. We have informed the BJP leadership, and they assured us that remedial measures will be taken. This does not indicate a major problem.”