12:01 AM, May 26, 2014 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:01 AM, May 26, 2014

All eyes on Delhi

All eyes on Delhi

Saarc leaders reach to see Modi take oath today
Pallab Bhattacharya, New Delhi

Jatiya Sangsad Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury arrived here yesterday to attend the swearing-in of Narendra Modi as India's 15th prime minister at a grand function at the Rashtrapati Bhavan forecourt today.
After the ceremony, the two leaders will hold a bilateral meeting.
Shirin was received at the Indira Gandhi International Airport by Sripriya Ranganathan, joint secretary in the Indian external affairs ministry. She was among the first two foreign leaders to reach the Indian capital and drove straight to the ITC Maurya Sheraton Hotel where she will be staying for the next two days.
While Bhutanese PM Tshering Tobgay also reached Delhi yesterday, most of the other Saarc leaders -- Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif (Pakistan), Tshering Tobgay (Bhutan) and Presidents Hamid Karzai (Afghanistan), Abdulla Yameen (Maldives) and Mahinda Rajapaksa (Sri Lanka) are arriving today, a few hours before the swearing-in scheduled for 6:00pm.
The day after the oath-taking, the new Indian prime minister will hold separate bilateral meetings with the Saarc leaders, including Shirin, at the Hyderabad House. Each meeting is expected to last about half an hour.
Shirin, representing Bangladesh in place of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who is on a tour of Japan, is also expected to call on Indian President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday.
She will also be among the foreign dignitaries who will be hosted a banquet by Pranab Mukherjee soon after he administers oath of office and secrecy to Modi. Earlier, the banquet was to have been hosted by the new Indian PM but a change has been effected a couple of days ago.
The separate bilateral meetings between Modi and the foreign leaders are expected to start at 9:30am and continue for three and a half hours.
The oath-taking of Modi, 63, who steered his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party to an astounding victory in parliamentary elections, has acquired a much higher profile due to the presence of the foreign leaders invited for the first time to an Indian PM's swearing-in.
Modi is the third PM to be sworn in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan after Chandra Shekhar and Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Usually, such ceremonies are held in the Durbar Hall of the Bhavan, which can accommodate 500 people. However, Modi wanted the forecourt to the venue to have a much larger number of people at the event.
Invites have been sent to an estimated 4,000 people.
Modi's 90-year-old mother Hirabhaben will be among the invitees to the oath-taking ceremony. 



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