While it's still too premature to ruminate on how the Gujarati tadka on India's political khichdi will taste, but invitees to Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony as India’s 15th prime minister at the Rashtrapati Bhavan will surely get to sample on the quintessential Gujarati delicacies.
For, the sumptuous spread planned to greet the 3,000 guests including heads of states, former prime ministers and VVIPs include dhokla, khaman et al alongside the evergreen kebabs.
Though unconfirmed, a buzz that did its rounds on the social media claimed that for the first time, Rashtrapati Bhavan is likely to serve 100% vegetarian food to its guests; however, this had to be changed keeping in mind the foreign invitees. The buzz in the national capital also talked about how the secretariat of Rashtrapati Bhavan, Delhi police and other security agencies are busy finalising plans to provide ground-to-air security cover for the grand event. While they check their weaponry, chefs, meanwhile, sharpen their knives to deliver some of the best vegetarian dishes alongside the non-veg items on that day.
The menu for high tea on the North Court and the South Court will include sandwiches, dhokla, kebabs, patties, imarti, kachauri, wafers, biscuits, cold drinks and tea.
The president, vice president, prime minister and members of his cabinet, chief justice of India, their families and the visiting foreign dignitaries will be hosted on the North Court in front of the president's residence.
The South Court will host the 800-odd MPs and their families. The VVIP menu will be served at both places. Sources said that looking at the large number of foreign guests, last minute changes have been made in the menu and along with various vegetarian items, kebab has been included in the VVIP menu.
Following the footsteps of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Modi had expressed his desire to be sworn at the forecourt so that a large number of visitors can be accommodated. Even Chandrashekar had taken his oath as the prime minister on the same court.
Modi's oath-taking ceremony has assumed a very high-profile event with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom attending it. If Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also decides to join the event, the stakes will go even higher.
Meanwhile, sources close to the PM designate maintained that from his core team, only a handpicked 20-30 people are likely to attend the event. However, invites are also sent to celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan and Lata Mangeshkar. Delhi Police will set a multi-layered security ring around Raisina Hills and all offices around it will be closed five hours before the event takes place. The security will be on par with the Republic Day celebrations arrangements in the national capital.
Meanwhile, the sprawling forecourt lawns of the Rashtrapati Bhavan is being readied for the gala event and workers were seen polishing the iron gates of the Bhavan. The 146-feet long Jaipur Column on which 'Star of India' perched atop, facing the forecourt steps of Rashtrapati Bhavan, was being decked up.
An alternative swearing-in ceremony venue was also being readied at the historic 'Durbar Hall' at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, in case spoil the show. The Durbar hall can accommodate about 500 people and entry will be restricted.
—With agency inputs