Rain played the perfect tease, drizzling just a little for a couple of minutes on a hot sultry evening as President Pranab Mukherjee hosted his first alt39 At Homealt39 reception and injected a popular touch to his preside
ncy by dismantling the barriers between the VIPs and other invited guests.
Ministers, politicians, diplomats, socialites and journalists were among more than 500 guests invited at the reception held on the sprawling lawns of Rashtrapati Bhavan on the occasion of Indias 65th Independence Day.
The ceremonies played by the clock.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Vice President Hamid Ansari and Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar sat under a maroon canopy waiting for the president to arrive.
It looked like it was going to rain any minute and it drizzled also a bit as Mukherjee, elegantly dressed in a black sherwani, arrived at 6 pm sharp.
The army band played the national anthem, with assembled guests standing at attention as a mark of respect.
Accompanied by senior aides, Mukherjee went around greeting the guests with folded hands.
After the national anthem, the barriers that divided the so- called VIP guests – ministers, ambassadors and senior diplomats – and other invited guests were done away with, letting everyone greet Mukherjee.
This small gesture signalled Mukherjees style of bringing a popular touch to his nascent presidency.
In the last few At Home receptions hosted by his predecessor, the VIPs and other invited guests were segregated, leaving those outside the hallowed category in a sulk. This time, the interaction was more animated and the atmosphere was more cheerful despite an intensely humid evening.
Gandhi, who could not attend the last alt39 At Homealt39 reception as she was away abroad recuperating from a surgery for an undisclosed medical condition, looked quite serene dressed in a cream white sari.
Among the ministers who were found chatting frequently with invited guests were Law Minister Salman Khurshid, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, Minister of State in the Prime Ministers Office V. Narayanasamy and Power Minister M. Veerappa Moily. – IANS