Indian Express

Setting the stage: Rashtrapati Bhawan forecourt prepares for Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony

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The President's house gets ready for the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi. (Express photo by Renuka Puri) The President's house gets ready for the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi. (Express photo by Renuka Puri)

The date has not been finalised, but preparations have begun for Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony. While the venue has also not been decided yet, the Rashtrapati Bhawan forecourt is being readied. In the past, only two prime ministers, A B Vajpayee and Chandrashekhar, were sworn in at the Rashtrapati Bhawan 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 that while there was talk of holding a spectacular event at the forecourt to accommodate a substantial number of invitees, 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 same 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, there are indications that 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 for the occasion. The refreshments, including sandwiches and pastries, for VIPs will be served at 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 on Tuesday. It is learnt that the party has requested that a tent be put up near the Central Hall to accommodate as many as a thousand possible visitors. The BJP has also requested extra flowers and decorations at the venue.

The Indian Railways canteen, in the parliament’s 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 the parliament on Monday to assess the preparations.

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