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India's Modi set to be inaugurated at grand ceremony

India's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which won the 2014 election with a record margin, has invited thousands of people, including foreign heads of government and celebrities for the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi and his cabinet.

NEW DELHI: Conventionally, Indian prime ministers have taken their oath of office in an ornate hall in the presidential palace, which can seat about 500 people.

But this time the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which won the 2014 election with a record margin, has invited almost 3,000 people for the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi and his cabinet.

Dr Harshvardhan, BJP leader, said: "26 May is a proud and golden day in the Indian politics. Not just the workers of Bharatiya Janata Party but the whole of India has waited for this day. Today, the whole country is happy."

The ceremony will be held in the forecourt of the presidential palace, the Rashtrapati Bhavan, to accommodate the galaxy of foreign dignitaries and eminent citizens expected to attend, as well as the media.

The outgoing prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh and the prime minister designate Modi will drive up the Raisina Hill separately, on either side are the offices of the prime minister, the finance minister, defence minister, service chiefs and other important government officials.

Modi will be seated with his cabinet colleagues in the forecourt of the presidential palace.

President Pranab Mukherjee will then administer the oath of office and secrecy to the prime minister and then one by one to the council of ministers.

Along with the other dignitaries, Dr Manmohan Singh and former prime minister Deve Gowda will be present, as well as the chief of the Congress party Sonia Gandhi.

For the first time invitations were sent to heads of government in the neighbouring countries of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Mauritius.

More than 6,000 security personnel are being deployed for the open-air ceremony, and the skies above have been designated as a no-fly zone.

Anil Shukla, joint commissioner of police, said: "Lots of roads will remain closed for security reasons. Only labelled vehicles will be allowed at the roads near the venue. Movement on some roads will remain restricted or will be diverted for the security of the visiting heads of states."

Film stars and corporate leaders will also attend the ceremony and high tea.

Invitations have gone out to iconic film stars Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan and Rajanikant and singer Lata Mangeshkar, all of whom endorsed Modi's development model in the province of Gujarat, where he was chief minister for three terms.  

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