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The Rediff Special/Onkar Singh and Josy Joseph
October 22, 2003
The nation's leaders will take a break from their hectic schedules to spend some time with their families during Diwali.
President A P J Abdul Kalam, who is on his first foreign tour, will return home early Saturday. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his Cabinet colleagues will receive him at the airport. No formal appointments have been scheduled in the forenoon to give the President some time to rest.
"Later, children, commoners and politicians desiring to greet the President will be allowed to do so. Prime Minister Vajpayee called on him last year to wish him. We expect the same this year," a Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson told rediff.com
Special: This Diwali, they will hear
Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat will leave for Jaipur on Wednesday afternoon. "The vice-president has been celebrating Diwali at his ancestral house for the last five decades and this year will be no different. He likes to spend time with his family and friends during this festival," said an official in the vice-president's office.
According to the PM's media advisor Ashok Tandon, Vajpayee will receive visitors at 7, Race Course Road from morning. Amongst those expected to call on him is Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani. "The evening is reserved for his family," Tandon said.
Advani will also receive visitors at his Prithviraj Road residence. "This is going to be the first Diwali together for his son Jayant and his wife who got married only a few weeks back. The family will perform pooja archana of Goddess Lakshmi, as is the custom in Hindu families," said an associate of the deputy PM.
Other Union ministers will also spend Diwali with their loved ones.
"I am going to be in Delhi with my family. I do not light crackers but the children do," Law Minister Arun Jaitley told rediff.com
Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa's day will be a mix of business and pleasure. He will be playing host to Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, who will arrive in Chandigarh after an early morning visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
Chretien will inaugurate a branch of the Canadian embassy in Chandigarh around 11.30 IST. "Later, I will spend time with my family and celebrate Diwali," Dhindsa told rediff.com
Union Minister for Human Resources Development Murli Manohar Joshi will spend the day with his family in Allahabad and will return to Delhi only around October 27.
According to Congress leader Tom Waddakan, party chief Sonia Gandhi will receive chief ministers and others who wish to greet her.
"She likes to spend the evening with her son Rahul, daughter Priyanka, son-in-law Robert Vadra and her grandchildren," he said.
Congress leader Jaipal Reddy will fly to Hyderabad. "It is an off day for me and I would like to spend time with my children and close relatives," he said.
Not just politicians, even others take this opportunity to take a break from their high pressure jobs.
National Security Guard Director General Ranjit Mooshahary says festivals are rare occasions when you get to spend time with your family. His family celebrates all festivals, whether it is Christmas, Easter or Diwali. "We are a very liberal family. Basically, we join others in the celebrations. I don't know whom we would be joining this year for Diwali celebrations."