Indian Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi pays his respects at the Mahatma Gandhi memorial at Rajghat ahead of his swearing-in ceremony, in New Delhi Monday. Photo: Reuters
Ahead of Narendra Modi's oath of office as India's new Prime Minister, around 4,000 people expected to attend the grand celebrations at Rashtrapati Bhavan today.
Anil Ambani, Sunil Mittal, Prashant Ruia, Gautam Adani, Pawan Munjal and AM Naik will be among the guests, repots Indian daily The Economic Times.
Indian Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi walks at the Mahatma Gandhi memorial after paying the flower tribute at Rajghat ahead of his swearing-in ceremony, in New Delhi on Monday. Photo: Reuters
The event, the biggest of its kind ever held at Rashtrapati Bhavan since the country gained independence, will see eight heads of government or their delegations in attendance as three bands provide the musical accompaniment.
Invitations have been sent to spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and celebrities such as Rajinikanth, Lata Mangeshkar and Amitabh Bachchan, along with Vadodara tea seller Kiran Mahida, who was one of Modi's proposers when he filed his nomination. Bachchan said he wouldn't be attending the event.
Classical singer Channulal Mishra, who proposed Modi's name in Varanasi, will be attending. "I want to bless him on this occasion," he said. Secretary to President Pranab Mukherjee, Omita Paul said that the event had been put together in the space of just six days, with the President having invited Modi to form the government on May 20 after the BJP parliamentary party meeting.
"We usually have events where a maximum of 1,400 guests are accommodated --these are the 'at-homes' hosted by the President. But it is the honourable president's firm desire that Rashtrapati Bhavan belong to the people, that more and more people be allowed to see it, that we plunged into this exercise with enthusiasm," she said.
But Paul was careful not to give anything away regarding the size of the council of ministers, such as the number of chairs earmarked for Modi and those who would be sworn in alongside him.
The central part of Delhi will be turned into a virtual fortress on Monday with government offices at South and North Block being given half the day off to clear the roads to Rashtrapati Bhavan.
"The approach roads to Rashtrapati Bhavan will be blocked after 5 pm," Paul said.
While Rashtrapati Bhavan does not expect rain to disrupt the outdoor show, alternative arrangements have been made at the Durbar Hall in case there's a shower.
The BJP formed a committee of three to coordinate arrangements with Rashtrapati Bhavan and has got 2,000 invites that it has sent to celebrities, party leaders, workers and corporate chieftains. General secretary, organisation, Ram Lal and senior general secretaries JP Nadda and Ananth Kumar are on the coordination committee.
The guest list of the party is creating a lot of buzz. Industrialists Hari Bhartia, Ajay Shriram and Rajan Mittal are expected to attend as are admen Piyush Pandey and Prasoon Joshi.
Rashtrapati Bhavan confirmed that each member of the new council of ministers has been allowed four passes for family and guests. No such passes have been sought by the Prime Minister-designate as yet, according to the Rashtrapati Bhavan briefing.
Meanwhile, Narendra Modi today visited Rajghat and paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi.
Modi spent around 10 minutes at Rajghat, the memorial to Mahatma Gandhi.
Modi, who led BJP to an astounding victory in the Lok Sabha polls, will be sworn in as the Prime Minister this evening in the forecourt of the majestic Rashtrapati Bhawan at a grand function to be attended by foreign dignitaries including SAARC leaders.
President Pranab Mukherjee will administer the oath of office and secrecy to Modi and his Council of Ministers in the presence of a host of leaders, including outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and party Vice President Rahul Gandhi, besides leaders of various other parties and Chief Ministers of a number of states.