Modi, Rashtrapati Bhawan ready for gala event
Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi, who, led the BJP to a stupendous victory in the Lok Sabha elections would be administered the oath of office and secrecy by President Pranab Mukherjee at the Rashtrapati Bhawan tomorrow evening.
The event would witness distinguished gathering which includes Heads of SAARC nations and other foreign dignitaries.
The swearing-in would be held in the sprawling forecourt of the majestic Rashtrapati Bhawan that has seen many a epoch making events in its existence.
It is for the first time that foreign heads of states, that include Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, have been invited for an Indian Prime Minister's oath taking ceremony.
The gesture is being seen as attempt by Mr Modi to reach out to the country's neighbours in a bid to pave the way for peace and amity in the region, essential for his agenda of growth and development for the country, which was the main plank of election campaign.
Mr Sharif and five other SAARC leaders are arriving here tomorrow.
However, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who would be away from the country on a pre-scheduled visit to Japan, will be represented by Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhary.
Bhutan Prime Minister Lyonchen Tshering Tobgay and Ms Chaudhury have already arrived for the ceremony.
Mr Sharif's delegation will include adviser on national Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhary.
His visit has evoked great interest in the political and diplomatic circles and among the people on both the sides of the border.
Mr Modi and Mr Sharif will have a bilateral meeting on May 27, according to officials.
Ahead of Mr Sharif's visit, Pakistan today freed 59 Indian prisoners. Sri Lanka also freed Indian fishermen. The move by the two countries was welcomed by Mr Modi. Meanwhile, the capital today witnessed a flurry of activity with a number of meetings of senior party leaders among themselves and with the top brass of the RSS. TDP chief, an NDA ally, today met Mr Modi. His party is expected to get a berth in the Cabinet There were indications that the Mr Modi will have a small Council of Ministers to begin with.
Arun Jaitley, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Sushma Swaraj, Rajnath Singh, Ananth Kumar, Nitin Gadkari are among leaders who may be sworn-in tomorrow besides the list may also include some members of the National Democratic Alliance.
Speculations of responsibilities to be shouldered by two veteran leaders L K Advani and Muril Manohar Joshi grew further with indications that Dr Joshi might be anointed as Speaker of the Lok Sabha while Mr Advani might be the alliance chairman.
The name of Sumitra Mahajan is also doing rounds for Speakership. But there was no official word so far. Likewise, change in guards in the party was also speculated if Mr Rajnath Singh takes over as Cabinet minister either in Defence or Home.
Party leader J P Nadda may replace Mr Rajnath Singh as party president.
Tamil political parties, including NDA allies, are protesting against invitation to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse for his government's alleged role in the atrocities against people of Tamil origin in his country during the last days of the civil war.
There were reports that AIADMK and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, her Karnataka and Kerala counterparts Siddaramaiah and Oommen Chandy might skip the ceremony, but there was no official confirmation.
Besides Mr Sharif, other SAARC leaders, who are arriving tomorrow are-Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and Mauritius Prime Minister Ram Ghulam.
The Pakistan Prime Minister is coming ignoring the call by the hard-liners in his country for not accepting the Modi invitation.
It is after 30 years that a party with a clear majority on its own was going to form a government at the Centre.
Meanwhile, impregnable security has been mounted in and around the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
A ground-to-air security cover on par with the Republic Day parade is being put in place for the swearing-in.
Delhi Police said a multi-layered security ring was being thrown around Raisina Hills and all offices around it will be closed for five hours before the ceremony.
The Rashtrapati Bhawan is all braced up for the gala event.
From ensuring security and coordinating VVIP movements to seating about four thousand guest and preparing mouth watering dishes for the high tea after the event and the President's dinner later for SAARC leaders, the Rashtrapati Bhawan staff is on its toes in their bid to see that everything went flawlessly.
Various agencies have been involved to ensure success of the big event.
There were reports that Modi's mother Hiraben might attend the ceremony.
The swearing-in is being held in the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhawan in view of the large number guests invited.
Otherwise such events are held in the Darbar hall, which, however, has a capacity of seating only about 500 guests.
In the past, the swearing-in of only two Prime Ministers "Atal Behari Vajpayee and Chandrashekhar have been held in the forecourt.
The oath ceremony will start at 1800 hrs and was expected to last about over an hour.
The High Tea would be served in three different courts of the Rashtrapati Bhawan to avoid crowding.
All the guests, other than the VVIPs, would have to arrive at the venue between three to five, after which the VVIP movement would start.
To keep the guests engaged till the event begins, bands of the Army Navy and the Air Force would be playing various patriotic tunes in the three courts, and refreshments would be available in all the three area to help the Guests to beat the heat.
There is also an emergency plan for shifting the venue to Darbar hall keeping in view the thunder and dust storms that have been lashing the capital for the past few days in the evening.
The event would be held in the open and if there are only light rains then the guest can do with umbrellas which are being kept ready.
The invitees include all the 77 MPs, state Governors, Chief Ministers, Chief Justice of India and the whole outgoing Council of Ministers, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, party vice- president Rahul Gandhi, besides, Ambassadors and representatives of the media had been invited for the event.
Arrangements had been made for four persons accompanying per person who would be taking oath in Mr Modi's Cabinet.
The Rashtrapati Bhawan staff had just five days to make the preparation for such a mega event, and 'we took it up as a challenge," said senior officials.
There would be a austere menu for the high tea-- about six varieties of snacks for " Moong Dal Kachori, Assorted Pastries, Dhokla, Cucumber Sandwiches, Imartis and Cookies.
In the President's dinner for the SAARC Heads of States, dishes, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian from all parts of the country would be served.
Some of these mouthwatering preparations include Chicken Hazari, Tandoori Aloo, Arvi Kabab, Birbali Kofta Curry, Jaipuri Bhindi, Kela-Methi Nu Shak(a Gujarati dish), Prawns, Chicken Chettinad, Galawati Kabab, Chilled Melon Soup and Parval Gorma, a Bengali speciality.
The desert include Pineapple Halwa and Sondesh, besides, cut fruits.
No private media camera would be allowed and the ceremony would be telecast live by Doordarshan.
(Posted on 26-05-2014)