May 27, 2014 08:28
Narendra Modi has been sworn in as the new prime minister of India, after an election in which his Bharatiya Janata Party ousted the Congress party, which has led the world's largest democracy for the past 10 years.
Modi took the oath of office Monday at a ceremony in New Delhi attended by world leaders and dignitaries, including Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
It is the first time in the troubled history of the rival nations a Pakistani leader has attended the swearing-in ceremony of an Indian prime minister.
The leaders of Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Maldives, Bhutan, Nepal and Mauritius also attended. Bangladesh, whose prime minister is travelling to Japan, was represented by its speaker of parliament.
The unprecedented overtures are being seen as a signal the new Indian leader will focus on improving ties with neighboring countries.
Analysts said Sharif's presence at the inauguration could signal an easing of tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors.
As a goodwill gesture, the Pakistani prime minister on Sunday ordered the release of more than 150 Indian prisoners, mostly fishermen. Both countries often detain each other's fishermen for illegally fishing in the other country's waters.
Modi led the BJP to a landslide victory against the Congress Party giving it the first one-party majority in parliament in 30 years. That means it can create a government without forming a coalition with regional leaders.
Controversy has swirled around Modi since 2002 when Hindu-Muslim rioting erupted in Gujarat state, which he has governed since 2001. More than 1,000 people died in the violence. India's Supreme Court cleared Modi of charges that he incited the violence.
Modi, who is 63, has since cast himself as an able administrator and decisive leader who has energized the economy of Gujarat and holds the promise of doing the same for the rest of the country.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.
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