The date has not been finalised, but preparations have begun for prime minister designate Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony. While the venue has not been decided either, the Rashtrapati Bhawan forecourt is being readied. Only two prime ministers, A B Vajpayee and Chandrashekhar, have ever been sworn in on the forecourt.
Arrangements are being made for 3,000 guests and a vegetarian high tea. The semi-circular seating arrangement from earlier occasions is being replicated. Keeping in mind Modi’s Z-plus security category, instructions have been issued to install “view cutters”.
The swearing-in is expected to take place later this week or early next week, after the BJP parliamentary party formally elects Modi as its leader. Senior BJP leaders confirmed talk of holding a spectacular event on the forecourt to accommodate a number of invitees, but said Modi would take the final decision.
Not leaving anything to chance, Rashtrapati Bhawan is also keeping the Durbar Hall ready. This venue can seat only 500 but is more suitable given the security considerations.
According to sources, the decorators who made the arrangements for Vajpayee’s swearing-in ceremony have been roped in. While the choice of venue in the case of Vajpayee and Chandrashekhar was dictated by the large number of alliance partners who had to be accommodated, in Modi’s case the BJP top brass is keen to put up an impressive ceremony with a large gathering. However, there has been no official communication yet between the BJP and Rashtrapati Bhawan.
Work has already begun for beautification of the forecourt. In addition to the usual red carpet, an antique blue carpet has been brought out. The refreshments, including sandwiches and pastries, for VIPs will be served on the forecourt, while VVIPs will be ushered to a room inside the building.
Meanwhile, the BJP is set to hold its first post-election parliamentary party meeting in Parliament Tuesday. It is learnt that the party has requested that a tent be put up near the Central Hall to accommodate 1,000 possible visitors.
The Indian Railways canteen on the premises has been asked to cater to those attending the meeting. BJP leaders J P Nadda, Ananth Kumar and Dharmendra Pradhan did a round of Parliament Monday to assess the preparations.
Sources said Ashish Khetan will be the vice-chairman of the commission.