NEWS
30/05/2019 8:26 AM IST | Updated 30/05/2019 10:29 AM IST

National Security A Priority Of The New Govt, Modi Says Ahead Of Swearing-In

The swearing-in-ceremony of Modi and his Council of Ministers is scheduled to take place at 7 PM at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

MONEY SHARMA via Getty Images

NEW DELHI — Ahead of taking oath as Prime Minister for a second term on Thursday, Narendra Modi said national security would be priority for his government. 

Modi tweeted this after his visit to the National War Memorial. 

The PM-designate and his council of ministers will sworn at the Rashtrapati Bhavan at 7PM today, a week after BJP swept back to power in 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Modi began the day with a visit to the Sadaiv Atal Samadhi to pay tribute to former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He was accompanied by BJP President Amit Shah and other party leaders including JP Nadda, Piyush Goyal, Giriraj Singh.

He also paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at the Samadhi in Rajghat, 

A number of heads of states, heads of governments, constitutional authorities, diplomats, senior political leaders, government officials and media persons are scheduled to attend the oath-taking ceremony.

Modi’s new cabinet

On the eve of his swearing-in, Modi on Wednesday held a marathon meeting with Shah as he gave final touches to the shape of his government, which is likely to have representation from most allies and showcase the party’s newfound strength in different regions.

Outgoing finance minister Arun Jaitley’s decision to opt out on health grounds has fuelled speculation about who will get the coveted portfolio with Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, who filled in for Jaitley and presented the populist pre-election budget, being seen as a key contender.

There is also a buzz about Shah, who has been elected to Lok Sabha from Gandhinagar and is a key architect of his party’s landslide win, joining the government.

If Shah joins the Modi cabinet, he is likely to get one of the four major portfolios; finance, home, defence or external affairs.

The BJP has refrained from making any official comment about the likely members of the government, with its leaders insisting that it is the prime minister’s prerogative.

Senior party leaders like Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Nirmala Sitharaman, Narendra Singh Tomar, Prakash Javadekar, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Dharmendra Pradhan and Smriti Irani, who defeated Congress president Rahul Gandhi in Amethi, are likely to join the second Modi government after being its members in its first avatar.

Though External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj did not contest the Lok Sabha elections on health grounds, there is a view within the party that she will also be a part of the new cabinet.

About 60 ministers may take oath. 

Some party leaders are of the view that a few leaders from the organisation can also be rewarded with ministerial berths.

If Shah joins the government, then JP Nadda and Bhupender Yadav are seen as top choices for heading the party.

BJP allies like Shiv Sena, JD(U), AIADMK, LJP, Akali Dal and Apna Dal are also set to be represented in the government.

Parties like Sena and JD(U) may get two berths as they are the largest constituents of the ruling National Democratic Alliance after the BJP, while others may get one berth each. 

A BJP leader said the government is likely to bear the stamp of the party’s impressive show in new regions like West Bengal, Odisha, North East and Telangana.

Modi, he said, may surprise with a few choices, referring to his decision to induct a number of former bureaucrats-turned-BJP leaders like R K Singh and Hardeep Puri in his ministry during his first term.

Some party leaders believe that the prime minister may also induct leaders like Manoj Sinha, who lost the Lok Sabha polls but is seen as one of the “performing” ministers of his first government. 

High security in Delhi

A multi-layered security arrangement will be in place in the city on Thursday, with deployment of around 10,000 security personnel from Delhi Police and paramilitary forces.

Quick Response Teams will be deployed at several crucial spots. Snipers will also be deployed atop several important buildings, a senior police official said.

A traffic advisory issued a day ahead of the ceremony said several roads in New Delhi district will be closed for movement of public between 4 PM to 9 PM on Thursday and motorists and public were asked to avoid them.

(With PTI inputs)