Narendra Modi may have opted for grandeur in choosing Rashtrapati Bhavan forecourt over Durbar Hall but it is a decision that will obviously cause his 4,000 odd guests some sweat, literally. The 6 pm open air function will have a long row of fans but no air-conditioning, something that several guests may not be used to in the Delhi heat.
In a last-minute change, the venue of dinner diplomacy planned for visiting heads of state after the swearing-in of PM-designate Narendra Modi has been changed from Hyderabad House to Rashtrapati Bhavan. It is learnt that the decision was taken due to security reasons and has brought a huge relief for security forces who were running against time to ensure security at the two venues. The President’s house is also learnt to have offered the guest wing, consisting of suites, to visiting heads of SAARC nations.
Nowhere is the suspense over who will make it to the Modi’s Cabinet more than at the Ashoka Hotel. With a large number of new MPs of the 16th Lok Sabha stationed at this temporary accommodation — incidentally close to Gujarat Bhawan — the guessing game over who will bag a Cabinet berth has reached near feverish pitch. You just cannot miss the hectic political activity underway. The first thing that catches the eyes of visitors to popular restaurants at the hotel is MPs being interviewed by TV channels in the lobby.
OUT OF BOUNDS
While there will be thousands of happy faces at the swearing-in ceremony on Monday evening, there will also be some — besides the losing UPA alliance — who will be disappointed. With preparations for the swearing-in in full swing, Rashtrapati Bhavan will remain closed for tours for the next two days and the Change of Guards Ceremony on Saturday has also been suspended. Most disappointed are those who booked tours to visit the establishment through the online portal. While they will get refunds, the cancellation has thrown several weekend plans out of gear.
JOB AT HAND
While speculation about Rajnath Singh moving to Narendra Modi’s Cabinet has given rise to conjecture about J P Nadda replacing Singh as the party president, the soft-spoken general secretary has appealed to the media to stop speculating. He, however, has been busy coordinating the arrangements of swearing-in ceremony with Rashtrapati Bhavan and other agencies involved. Meanwhile, the government has decided to close offices at Rajpath after lunch on Monday to ensure full-proof security for the ceremony.