A spectacular symphony of grandeur, culture at Rashtrapati Bhavan | Latest News India

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By Mahtab Ahmad

Arc lights bathed the facade of Rashtrapati Bhavan in a warm, amber glow as the Sunday sun set on a hot Delhi evening. At the foot of the Tuscan pillars, on a wide stage, sat President Droupadi Murmu. To her left were dozens of women and men who will govern the country in an array of ministerial roles over the next five years.

President Droupadi Murmu and Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other ministers at the swearing-in ceremony of new Union government, at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi, Sunday. (PTI)
President Droupadi Murmu and Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other ministers at the swearing-in ceremony of new Union government, at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi, Sunday. (PTI)

Murmurs rippled through the audience. World leaders, veteran politicians, Supreme Court justices, business magnates, actors, musicians, dignitaries, sanitation staff, construction workers and rat-hole miners made up the 8,000-strong crowd, sandwiched between the presidential palace’s imposing steps and the towering Jaipur column.

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The makeshift arena was bordered by manicured trees; the audience included many who had flown in from across the expanse of India, and indeed Asia, for the momentous occasion. Sprinkler fans whirred on overdrive as the temperature tipped past 40 degrees Celsius once again.

The murmurs fell silent around 7.15pm. Narendra Modi, dressed in a white kurta and churidar, with a blue checked jacket, left his seat made his way to the lectern. Rapturous applause followed.

“I, Narendra Damodardas Modi…,” he began, taking an oath of office for a record-equalling third consecutive term as India’s Prime Minister, cheered on by the buoyant spectators.

Over the next couple of hours, 30 cabinet ministers, five ministers of state (independent charge) and 36 ministers of state followed Modi as the contours of a National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government took shape.

They swore to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution, to uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India, to faithfully and conscientiously discharge their duties and to do right to all manner of people in accordance with the Constitution and the law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.

And as they took oath, they were watched by a galaxy of guests.

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Seven leaders from southeast Asia, Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu, Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, his Bhutanese counterpart Tshering Tobgay and Vice-President of Seychelles Ahmed Afif, attended the glittering event.

The star-studded crowd also included actors Shahrukh Khan, Rajinikanth, Anil Kapoor, Akshay Kumar, Raveena Tandon, Anupam Kher and Vikrant Massey, filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani, industrialists Mukesh Ambani, his sons Anant and Akash as well as his son-in-law Anand Piramal, and Gautam Adani.

Chief Justice of India Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud attended the programme with his wife. Former presidents Ram Nath Kovind and Pratibha Patil were also present, apart from senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi and a string of parliamentarians and party workers.

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Congress president and leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge was the lone Opposition representative, as the rest of the umbrella INDIA bloc were not part of the event.

Transgender people, sanitation workers from Delhi and labourers who helped build the new Parliament building were also invited.

Among them was Angad Kumar Paswan (28), who worked on the Union government’s ambitious Central Vista project.

“I am still not able to believe that I would be witnessing the grand oath taking ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan,” Paswan, from Garhwa district in Jharkhand, said, holding his invite up like a trophy.

Around 10pm, as the dias emptied and the crowds thinned out, the warm lights lit up the solitary lectern. It was curtains on the ceremony. The stage had been set for the next five years.

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