On god they swear, and some by the truth


New Delhi : It was not all in the name of god at the Rashtrapati Bhavan Friday evening when India’s new government was sworn in.

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Most of the 19 ministers and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recited the familiar “I… swear in the name of god that I will bear true faith and solemnly affirm allegiance ….”

Not A.K. Antony and C.P. Joshi, though. While Congress veteran Antony simply said he “solemnly affirmed”, Rajasthan leader Joshi swore by “satya nishtha”, the truth.


English rules the evening

English was the language of the evening Friday with 15 of the new ministers as well as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh taking their oath of office in it.

Only Kamal Nath, Sharad Pawar, C.P. Joshi and Meira Kumar took their oath in Hindi.


Turbanator Singh all the way

Only one man got a standing ovation when the new cabinet and prime minister for the next five years was sworn in. As Manmohan Singh finished taking oath for his second term as prime minister, the distinguished gathering broke into applause and stood up for the gentle sardar who helped the Congress return to power.

Dressed in his usual white kurta-pyjama and blue turban, Manmohan Singh walked up to Congress president Sonia Gandhi sitting in the front row next to Vice President Hamid Ansari. He acknowledged their greetings and walked back as the house echoed with claps.


Clothes maketh the ministers

It was a touch of back home for most of the 19 ministers who made sure they wore something from their states — be it the traditional ‘gamusa’ that Assam’s B.K. Handique threw over his dhoti-kurta, or West Bengal’s Pranab Mukherjee who draped an ‘uttareya’ over his kurta and dhoti.

Ambika Soni, who is often seen in a sari, was wearing a crisp white salwar kurta from her native state Punjab and P. Chidambaram from Tamil Nadu was clad in his customary veshti.

Most of the men chose to wear a kurta-pyjama or dhoti, but some were in the Nehru jacket. Meira Kumar and Mamata Banerjee wore saris, with the latter as usual making little concession for the occasion with a white, green border cotton drape.

Coincidentally, President Patil was also in white and green – except hers was a rich, silk with broad, intricate zari border.