Several luminaries of Indian politics are descending in Lucknow to attend the historic swearing-in ceremony of 38-year-old Akhilesh Yadav as the youngest ever chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, on Thursday.
Most prominent among these was Lal Krishna Advani, a stalwart of the Bhartiya Janata Party, seen as a sworn traditional political foe of the Samajwadi Party.
Among others who were expected to attend the occasion was Punjab chief minister and Shiromani Akali Dal supremo Parkash Singh Badal, Union minister Pawan Bansal, All India Trinamool Congress leader and Union minister Sultan Ahmed, Communist Party of India-Marxist general secretary Prakash Karat, CPI bigwig A B Bardhan and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha president Babu Lal Marandi.
Two former UP governors Romesh Bhandari and Moti Lal Vora, who is currently holding the office of All India Congress Committee, treasurer have also confirmed their plans to attend the grand installation ceremony at the La Martiniere College grounds in Lucknow at 11.30 am Thursday.
The ceremony would also be attended by industrialist Anil Ambani among some other prominent representatives of leading business houses.
While millennium star Amitabh Bachchan is stated to have expressed his inability to participate in the occasion because of his indisposition, his wife and Samajwadi Party Rajya Sabha member Jaya Bachchan is arriving early Thursday morning to join the occasion.
The sprawling 4-acre ground has been hired by the state government by paying a rent of Rs 1 crore. The ground lies just opposite the official residence of the UP chief minister and was selected for the ceremony in place of Raj Bhawan as Samajwadi Party wanted large scale participation of its rank and file which could not have been accommodated inside the precincts of the Governor's house.
An additional expenditure of about Rs 2 crores is estimated to be incurred on the mega event, for which large scale arrangements including a 'giant sized pandal' with more than 25,000 chairs were being laid out.
Several top religious leaders and spiritual gurus are also expected to attend the ceremony. These include Jama Masjid Shahi Imam Ahmad Bukhari, All India Muslim Personal Law Board president Maulana Rabe Hasan Nadwi, leading Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawwad and Islamic seminary 'Firangi Mahal' chief Maulana Khalid Rasheed.
Besides, leading yoga guru Swami Ramdev is also expected to attend the swearing-in ceremony.