MINGLES with all opposition leaders, but avoids Sonia Gandhi in particular
New Delhi : Prime Minister Narendra Modi was at the centre of attention on Friday at the ‘At Home’ function hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee on the occasion of the 68th Independence Day.
A relaxed Modi broke the security cordon and freely mingled with the guests and exchanged greetings. It was a maiden ‘At Home’ for 63-year-old Modi. With folded hands, Modi was seen receiving compliments from the invitees for his first Independence Day speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort as several invitees made a beeline seeking his autograph.
Invitation cards, its envelopes, small pieces of notepad and even paper napkins were used by people who had gathered in the sprawling lawns of Mughal Garden to get an autograph of the Prime Minister.
Modi responded to the compliments from the assembled guests by saying that everyone has to work for development of the country and that he requires everyone’s support to achieve that goal.
An enthusiastic TV journalist made attempts to speak to the Prime Minister but he only responded with a smile.
Modi returned to the VVIP enclosure and was seated facing Congress President Sonia Gandhi. There was no exchange of greetings between the two. Gandhi was seen having a chit-chat with senior BJP leader L K Advani, who was seated next to her in the VVIP enclosure. The enclosure saw some changes this year with Vice President Hamid Ansari’s seat being shifted to the row opposite to the President.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with his wife Gursharan Kaur, Chief Justice of India R M Lodha, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad were among others present in the VVIP enclosure.
The President took a round outside the VVIP enclosure and met people besides taking a round of the corner where diplomats from various countries were having their tea and snacks. There was no separate enclosure for cabinet ministers or diplomatic corps this time at the function which saw a gathering of nearly 1,500 people.