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Rashtrapati Bhavan ready for Modi's swearing-in

May 25, 2014 21:30 IST

Rashtrapati Bhavan ready for Modi's swearing-in

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The swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi as the 15th Prime Minister of India will be the biggest event so far to have been staged at Rashtrapati Bhavan with the guest list, which includes key leaders from SAARC countries, set to cross the 4,000 mark.

This is the first time that such a large gathering will be held at Rashtrapati Bhavan, where the biggest ceremonies so far have seen a maximum of up to 1,500 to 2,000 guests, for instance, during the 'At Home' functions on the occasions of Republic and Independence days.

The swearing-in functions of Chandrashekhar in 1990 and Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1998 were held at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan and saw an attendance of 1,200 to 1,300 guests, said Omita Paul, Secretary to President Pranab Mukherjee.

"With the gathering (for Modi's swearing-in) expected to be around 4,000 people, it was a huge logistical challenge for us and we enjoyed it," Paul said while interacting with media persons on the preparations for tomorrow's function, when Modi will be sworn-in at 6 PM.

There is no immediate information about any members of the Prime Minister-designate's family attending the function, she said.

Even as Paul was talking to the media, final preparations were underway to prepare the stage where the President will administer the oath to Modi and his council of ministers.

"We have not been told anything about who will be sworn-in along with the Prime Minister," was Paul's prompt reply when asked about the size of the Cabinet.

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Image: Preparations are in full swing on the fore-court of Rashtrapati Bhavan on the eve of the Swearing-in-Ceremony of prime minister designate Narendra Modi, in New Delhi on Sunday
Photographs: PTI Photo

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The secretary said that the President had given his nod for the swearing-in to be held at the forecourt as he has always favoured the participation of more and more people.

"It has been an endeavour of the President to make Rashtrapati Bhavan people friendly," she said.

With the weather forecast hinting at the likelihood of thundershowers on Monday, Paul said she is hoping that no rain occurs during the function as the venue would then have to shift inside to the 'Durbar Hall', which has seating for 500 people while 400 others can fit in standing.

Twelve golf carts will be pressed into service to ferry people who cannot walk to the forecourt, she said, adding that the guests are expected to be seated by 5 PM at the North Court, South Court and Central Vista of the forecourt.

Due to security precautions, bags or mobile phones will not be allowed inside the venue, she said.

"We have made some arrangements for the very hot weather, like fans, water, etc.," she said, quickly adding in a lighter vein that "let's enjoy the sun and also feel the sauna effect".

All roads leading to Rashtrapati Bhavan will be closed at 5 PM to facilitate the movement of VVIPs.

This is the first time that heads of SAARC nations will be attending such a function, she said, adding that this is also the maiden occasion when invitations have been sent to all 777 MPs, comprising members of Lok and Rajya Sabha.

Governors and chief ministers, diplomats, envoys and other constitutional heads would be attending the function besides a battery of over 350 journalists.

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Image: Rashtrapati Bhavan
Photographs: PTI Photo

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Members of the outgoing UPA-II Cabinet have also been invited to attend the function.

To keep the public entertained during the waiting period, bands of Navy, Army and Air Force will perform patriotic songs. That will be followed by a commentary from 4:45 PM onwards about the arrival of VVIPs.

Ambulances and teams of doctors have been placed at strategic points at the venue in case of emergencies, she said.

Meanwhile, a multi-layered security apparatus has been put in place for Modi's swearing-in.

Over 6,000 security personnel will keep a hawk-eyed vigil even as a ground-to-air security system at par with the one placed during the Republic Day parade has been put in place for the ceremony.

"We have made elaborate security arrangements for the swearing in ceremony. Prohibitory orders have been put in place in the New Delhi district. Full air defence grid is place. Any airborne activity including hot air balloons will not be allowed. We are on guard against terror act," said Joint Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) M K Meena.

IAF has put in place an air defence system to secure the skies. Anti-aircraft guns have been placed at classified locations. Snipers will be deployed at all high-rise buildings

around the high-security area hours before the ceremony begins at 6 PM at forecourt lawn of the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Mobile hit teams, Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) have been deployed besides paramilitary and Delhi Police commandos to secure the area. Dog squad and bomb-disposal squads have already sanitised the venue but the drill will also be repeated several times tomorrow. NSG commandos will be responsible for the inner layer of security.

All buildings like North Block, South Block and defence buildings around Rashtrapati Bhavan will be shut at 1 PM following which they will be sanitised by security agencies and their roof tops will be secured, police said. 

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Image: A worker busy with cleaning work near Vijay Chowk as part of preparations for the swearing-in ceremony of the new prime minister in New Delhi
Photographs: PTI Photo

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"In the restricted areas, only official vehicles and bonafide residents will be allowed. Commandos and local police will strengthen the operations of traffic police. Till

the time all invitees leave the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the security blanket will be operational," said Meena.

Talking about security for the bilateral talks slated to be held on Tuesday, Meena said that full security drill is in place for the meeting.

"Prohibitory orders are in place in the New Delhi area till Tuesday," he said.

Strict traffic restrictions have been put in place for the ceremony. Roads to Rajpath, Vijay Chowk and its North and South Fountain area, South Avenue Marg, North Avenue Marg, Dalhousie Road and Church Road will be closed between 4.00 pm to 8.00 pm on Monday.

Senior police and other security establishment officials will be on ground as well as in the command room to monitor the situation in realtime when the event takes place.

Spotters will also be present on high-rise buildings like Rail Bhavan and Air Force Headquarters which are close to the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

There will be anti-sabotage checks on all roads leading to the venue and top notch security will be in place along all the routes to be taken by the dignitaries to reach the venue.

As multiple agencies are involved in the security apparatus, several rounds of meetings have already taken place to ensure fool-proof coordination during the event.

The Rashtrapati Bhavan perched on the Raisina Hills is already a high-security zone. With security being further beefed up, the presidential estate and an area within two km radius will turn into a virtual fortress.

Some of the foreign countries have agreed to the request of dropping their security component from the entourage of the heads of state and government keeping in view the limited space available at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.


Image: Security arrangements at Raisina Hill on the eve of the swearing-in ceremony of the new Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi
Photographs: PTI Photo

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