The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CM’s crown with PM banner

Ahmedabad, Dec. 22: Full of humility on his day of coronation, Narendra Modi touched the feet of the BJP trinity — Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Lal Krishna Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi.

In the sea of people at the Sardar Patel Stadium draped in saffron bobbed a placard: “Our Narendra Modi is CM today, he will be PM of Hindu Rashtra”.

Had Vajpayee seen it he would perhaps not be perturbed too much — his time as Prime Minister most likely ends in 2004. But Advani, his official successor' Or Joshi, who has lost out to Advani'

Whatever the thoughts that crossed their minds, at the swearing-in, they were mere sideshows — as were the Bollywood figures — to the main Modi act.

Despite earlier protocol confusion over whether he would be present, the Prime Minister was there, fetched up to the podium by an elevator along with Governor S.S. Bhandari. After the Gujarat victory, at least in public, Vajpayee has risen above the disagreements he has had with Modi since the riots.

In the order of Modi’s pranam, he came — very much according to protocol — only after the sadhus. That followed the swearing-in after 1.58 pm — the auspicious time under the pushya nakshatra.

Once the “speechless” ceremony was over, Modi did a “victory lap”. He went around the stadium — packed far beyond the capacity of 60,000 and holding much more than anybody had seen for even an India match — as ecstatic BJP workers shouted “Jai Shri Ram”.

If Juhi Chawla, in a red sari, Shekhar Suman, actor-minister Vinod Khanna and singer Anuradha Paudwal provided the glamour, the gild came in the shape of Reliance vice-chairman Anil Ambani, Essar’s Shashi Ruia, Modi Group’s B.K. Modi and Ambuja Cements’ Suresh Neotia.

Jayalalithaa led the supporting cast of four chief ministers.

One notable guest was K.P.S. Gill, who had been thrust on Modi as security adviser after the riots. And a notable absentee: VHP leader Praveen Togadia.

n Picture on Page 6

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