Modi to take oath today

May 26, 2014 - 7:34:20 am

New Delhi: Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony at 6pm today will be one of the biggest such events held at Rashtrapati Bhavan with around 4,000 guests, including seven heads of government, attending.

Rashtrapati Bhavan has held ceremonies attended by 1,400-1,500 guests earlier.

Modi’s swearing-in ceremony will be an open air event at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan. A stage has been set up at the base of the steps, with hundreds of chairs placed in a semi-circle facing it for the ceremony, which shall be televised live.

Earlier, the swearing-in ceremonies were held at Ashoka Hall, with around a 400-500 restricted guest list, said Omita Paul, secretary to President Pranab Mukherjee, briefing media yesterday on the arrangements.

Only twice earlier have swearing-in ceremonies been held at the forecourt — of Chandrashekhar in 1990 and Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1998 — where the guests numbered around 1,200-1,300, said Paul. There is no word yet if Modi’s kin would be attending the ceremony, she said. “It is a one of its kind function being held by Rashtrapati Bhavan,” said Paul.

“We have tried to take care of each detail. It was a huge logistical challenge for us,” she said, adding that they worked in tandem with the security personnel.

Today’s guest list will include, besides the foreign leaders, foreign diplomats, members of the former council of ministers, constitutional heads, 777 MPs of both houses, chief ministers, governors and media persons. Some corporate leaders are also expected to attend the swearing in, she said. Each of the ministers would be allowed to invite four guests, she added.

The ceremony, to begin at 6 pm, would last approximately one hour and 10 minutes, said officials of Rashtrapati Bhavan, refusing to divulge the number of ministers expected to be sworn in.

Paul said President Mukherjee believes that Rashtrapati Bhavan belongs to the people and that there should be more such occasions to meet and interact with people. Mukherjee has taken several measures to make the presidential palace more accessible to the common man. In view of security considerations, no bags and telephones will be allowed.

Barring the VVIPs, who will be allowed to come in their cars, the other guests will have to avail of pick and drop facility. For those who are unable to walk in the vast expanse, around 12 horse-drawn buggies will be provided to ferry them. Guests are to be seated in their chairs by 5pm, after which the routes would be closed. Narendra Modi will visit Rajghat this morning to pay homage to the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi ahead of his swearing-in as the 14th prime minister of India.

The BJP leader will visit Rajghat at 7.30 am to pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi, said a statement.IANS

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