Shimla’s historic Ridge, the flat space used for government functions, was a hive of activity on Tuesday, a day ahead of the scheduled swearing-in ceremony for Himachal Pradesh’s new Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, a five-time BJP MLA from Seraj in Mandi district. The ceremony, which will be held at 11 am on Wednesday, will be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah, chief ministers of the NDA-ruled states, besides top BJP leaders. Sources said nearly 14 helicopters will be flying to Shimla to ferry the VVIPs. Since there is not enough parking space at Annandale ground (helipad), the helicopters will fly back to Chandigarh after dropping them and will return to pick them later in the day.
Two chief ministers — Yogi Adityanath of UP and Sarbananda Sonowal of Assam — already reached Shimla on Tuesday. Earlier in the day, Jai Ram Thakur, Union Health Minister J P Nadda, former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and BJP’s in-charge of Himachal Pradesh Mandal Pandey visited the venue to oversee arrangements. Thakur also held a meeting with top government officials. The BJP expects a huge public turnout at the Ridge during the event. Nearly 3,000 people are expected from Seraj alone.
“We will install 11-12 LED screens on the Mall Road and nearby places in the town. To enable people of Mandi to watch the swearing in-ceremony, arrangements have been made for a live telecast on LED screens at famous Seri Mach of Mandi town, Sundernagar and Kullu,” said Mandi MP Ram Swaroop Sharma.
Director General of Police Somesh Goyal said, “All arrangements have been made and foolproof security has been put in place. Proper barricading of the town has been done. Additional police force has been deployed for security and traffic movement as tourist arrivals have also picked up. This will be first time when such a huge number of VVIPs will be in town together.”
Thakur’s family members, including his 80-year-old mother, have also reached the town to attend the ceremony.