It was a glittering oath-taking ceremony at the magnificent Rashtrapati Bhavan forecourt to celebrate the remarkable third-term of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The massive audience that watched the PM and the Union Council of Ministers being sworn in by President Droupadi Murmu on Sunday evening had as many stars and celebrities as commoners, rat-hole miners and members of the LGBTQ community .

Before the Prime Minister, attired in a sober white kurta-pyjama and blue jacket, walked down the red carpet to sit beside his senior colleagues — Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah, Nitin Gadkari, JP Nadda, and Shivraj Singh Chouhan — the visitors’ galleries were straining to catch a glimpse of the Who’s Who of India who came for the event. Chouhan, who orchestrated a big win in MP, attracted one of the loudest cheers as he took the oath. 

Bollywood Badshah Shah Rukh Khan arrived in stylish shades and a trendy hairstyle, smiling charmingly at the guests, some of whom rushed to shake his hand. Just ahead of him were top industrialists Gautam Adani and Mukesh Ambani. Mukesh Ambani’s son, Anant Ambani, too, had come for the ceremony. Southern super star Rajnikanth also attended the ceremony, as did Bollywood star Akshay Kumar, who is known to be close to the BJP. Bollywood actor-turned-newly-elected MP from Mandi, Kangana Ranawat, also created a buzz as she glided in, wearing a cream-coloured saree and gold jewellery with her hair carefully swept in a bun.

In keeping with the Prime Minister’s “neighbourhood first” policy, those invited included leaders from India’s immediate neighbourhood and the Indian Ocean region: President of Sri Lanka Ranil Wickremesinghe, Vice President of the Seychelles Ahmed Afif, Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina, President of Mauritius Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, Prime Minister of Nepal Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, and Prime Minister of Bhutan Tshering Tobgay. Of special interest was the President of the Maldives, Mohamed Muizzu, because of some tension in India’s relationship with the Maldives of late.

The Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge was present at the event, though Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were noticeably absent.