So, was it really the mother-of-all swearing-ins? I am not very sure. At least two people sitting in at Rashtrapati Bhavan told me later it was boring.
For those of us watching it from home or office or at screens across the city, there was relief in the form of voice commentary and/or interesting nuggets about each minister as he or she was being sworn in.
Even though I was in Class 6 when the Janata Party government came into power and there was just Doordarshan in existence, the excitement then was huge.
I still remember watching Morarji Desai’s oath-taking on DD, followed by that of his ministers, a few of who were Prime Ministers later. In 1977, we were happy to get rid of the Emergency and an oppressive government. Now, it was more good riddance to an ineffective regime.
In many ways, Modi’s victory was as big, and the swearing-in last evening was hyped to be the biggest thing that the country was going to see. There were SAARC leaders invited, the Pakistan Prime Minister and Sri Lanka President did turn up, as did the Afghanistan President. But, this is an era influenced by 24x7xcountless number of news channels and a hyperactive social media.
Headlines Today started a special transmission at 7 am, CNN-IBN at 1 pm and Times Now at 3 pm. I watched the then-still-Prime Minister-designate go to Rajghat. He went later to PM Atal Behari Vajpayee’s residence, but by then I had read all the papers and couldn’t take one bit more of the swearing-in, until the appointed hour.
Since work forces me to consume television from wherever I am, and given that we have a Prime Minister who wears his Gujarat Model on his sleeves, I ordered some dhokla and farsan to be consumed for the near-two-hour ceremony.
PS: At the time of writing, the portfolios were not announced. Both Najma Heptullah and Smriti Irani said so emphatically earlier on the 9 pm bulletins. Sigh.
Pradyuman Maheshwari is a senior journalist and editor. When he’s not chasing news, he’s watching it.