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Saffron wear, moist eyes and many smiles

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on May 20, 2014 Published on May 20, 2014

Here at last PM-elect Narendra Modi with Rajnath Singh and LK Advaniduring the BJP parliamentary party meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday.   -  PTI

BJP Prime Minister Designate, Narendra Modi, being welcomed by colleagues while entering the Parliament House in New Delhi on Tuesday. Photo: Rajeev Bhatt   -  The Hindu

Emotions run high as Narendra Modi takes over the ‘temple of democracy’

From the moment Narendra Modi bowed, touching his forehead to the entrance of what he described as “temple of democracy”, he set a distinct tone for the proceedings that followed in the Central Hall of Parliament on Tuesday.

The 282 newly-elected MPs flooded the Central Hall along with their 46 counterparts in the Rajya Sabha, senior BJP office-bearers and Chief Ministers Vasundhara Raje, Manohar Parrikar, Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Raman Singh for the parliamentary party meeting to elect their new leader. Modi will be sworn in on May 26 along with what is described as an “abbreviated” Cabinet.

Modi’s chief adviser Amit Shah was the master of ceremony with almost every new MP straining to catch his eye. Shah, on his part, touched Murli Manohar Joshi’s feet, a gesture replicated by a throng of others following him. There were quite a few saffron-robed MPs – Sakshi Maharaj, Savitribai Phule, Yogi Adityanath, Uma Bharati, Narayan Jyoti. Even Maneka Gandhi rose to the occasion by donning a saffron sari.

A subdued round of applause followed the entry of LK Advani and Sushma Swaraj, who was greeted with a warm embrace by Uma Bharati.

Cold shoulder

As she stood chatting with Bharati and a crowd of new MPs, B Sriramulu bent to touch Swaraj’s feet. She ignored him and continued talking to the other MPs. Swaraj had opposed the entry of Sriramulu, who faces allegations of corruption and illegal mining. She had been vocal in opposing his candidature from Bellary, Karnataka. Not only did Sriramulu contest from Bellary, but he won the election and joined the BJP’s parliamentary party.

As Modi entered the Central Hall along with party president Rajnath Singh, most MPs stood and clapped while Advani came forward to greet him. Modi touched Advani’s feet and the proceedings commenced. Rajnath requested Advani to propose Modi’s name as leader of the BJP parliamentary party and PM-designate.

Advani was moist-eyed when he proposed Modi’s name as PM, setting the stage for the new BJP-led government. “I have a weakness… I am prone to tears. I cried when India became Independent, I had tears when the Emergency was lifted and now, when the BJP is at this historic cusp of history, I thank Narendra Modi for his kripa, for letting me witness this unforgettable moment,” said the 86-year-old Advani.

The MPs cheered and clapped while Joshi made an inaudible intervention. He was speaking in the din that rose following Advani’s proposal that was seconded by Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Karia Munda, Gopinath Munde, Thawar Chand Gehlot, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Modi’s ‘mother’

Modi too broke down as he thanked Advani and described the BJP as “my mother”. Describing the mandate as a “vote for hope and change for the better”, Modi thanked the party MPs, many of whom were openly crying. Modi’s voice was catching as he addressed the MPs: “Advaniji used the word kripa. Please don’t use these terms. The party is my mother; it has done me the favour of giving me an opportunity to serve it. How can a son’s duty to his mother be described as kripa?”

He paused then, held himself and asked for a glass of water. Rajnath motioned the marshal to deliver his kerchief to the PM-elect. Many in the large audience of newly-elected MPs appeared equally moved as Modi continued: “Modi is seen not because Modi’s stature is big. Modi is visible because party elders hoisted him on their shoulders.”

“Had Atal Bihari Vajpayee been well, his presence would have completed this moment,” he said, his voice catching. “We're here not for posts but to represent the aspirations of 125 crore people. Fulfilling my responsibility is the main goal. An era of responsibility has begun. When we meet in 2019, I will give you and my countrymen a report card... I will live for India.”

As soon as he was elected leader of the parliamentary party, the BJP welcomed all the 29 constituents of the newly-expanded National Democratic Alliance who sat alongside Modi, Rajnath, Advani, Swaraj and Jaitley. Prominent allies, Uddhav Thackrey of the Shiv Sena, Prakash Singh Badal of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Ramvilas Paswan of the Lok Janshakti Party, N Chandrababu Naidu of the TDP et al were also requested to address the gathering of BJP MPs.

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Published on May 20, 2014
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