Saturday, Nov 22, 2014

And they all trooped to Gujarat Bhawan

Modi returns to Gujarat Bhawan after the oath-taking ceremony. (Source: Express photo by Praveen Khanna) Modi returns to Gujarat Bhawan after the oath-taking ceremony. (Source: Express photo by Praveen Khanna)
Written by Dipankar Ghose | New Delhi | Posted: May 27, 2014 2:29 am

It was as if it was all a symphony, building up to that one final note. In the morning, there was an unnerving quiet, the odd police car moving around outside. It was a sign of what lay in store. As the sun made its journey across the sky, more and more people arrived at the gate —  pujaris and minister hopefuls, unidentifiable bureaucrats and curious onlookers. Some were allowed inside, others sweated it out at the gate.

Every passing vehicle slowed down to look at a building that had turned a fortress. People could be seen alighting from their vehicles and milling around with the waiting media, who had made a small patch of green nearby their home over the past few days.

One carriageway was shut and reserved for vehicles wishing to enter the gates. At every 15 metres stood a policeman, either in white or khaki. “I’m surprised they are letting us stand here. But this is the closest I am going to get to Narendra Modi for the next five years at least. Even if he is Gujarati like I am,” Sanjay Patel, who was refused entry into Gujarat Bhawan, said.

By early afternoon, the majority of action was inside. It was, however, mirrored in a curious way outside. As a steady stream of politicians exited their vehicles at the Gujarat Sadan gates, the lists of possible Cabinet ministers kept changing.

Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley seemed to be the only permanent fixtures on the list, the rest were based on who had come to Gujarat Sadan.

They all made the cut. The fact that L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi had stayed away was confirmation that they would not be sworn in later in the evening.

There were others, unrelated to politics, who gained entry. Chhannulal Mishra, one of those who proposed his name in Varanasi, came in a BMW sedan. “I am honoured that I have been invited to the swearing-in. I wanted to thank Narendra Modi for the honour, and, just for this occasion, a car like this have been arranged for me. Normally, I live a simple life,” Mishra told eager reporters from inside the vehicle.

As the day progressed, police outside became increasingly frenzied as dress rehearsals of Modi’s cavalcade began. Every half an hour, over 10 cars, an ambulance drawing up the rear, would swarm out of Gujarat Sadan, and return in 10 minutes.

Many waiting outside would begin asking each other if Modi’s schedule had an afternoon visit somewhere, only to be told by a policeman, “Don’t worry sir, this is only a practice round.”

Then, there was a pause. Any vehicle without a media sticker or a beacon were driven away. Crowds were shooed away and roads fell quiet. A blue truck full of continued…

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