While the politicians are busy debating who should be the next President, the bureaucrats are debating where he should be sworn in.
There are three possible venues: Parliament’s Central Hall, Darbar Hall at Rashtrapati Bhavan and Vigyan Bhavan. Central Hall is the traditional first choice; it is where 10 of India’s 12 Presidents were sworn in. The remaining two ceremonies were held at Darbar Hall, which can accommodate no more than 650 people. Vigyan Bhavan has never been seen as a serious option in the past.
But Central Hall got a little too cramped and hot when APJ Abdul Kalam was sworn in. “There were more than 100 invitees who could not sit; many of those who found a seat could not get a clear view of the ceremony,” said an official of the Union Home Ministry, which is tasked with the responsibility of arranging for ceremonies like this one.
Central Hall is air-cooled and works well only if there are 350-400 people present. At Kalam’s ceremony, there was nearly three times that number. What works in Vigyan Bhavan’s favour is that it is air-conditioned and has enough space for all of them plus some more.
Officials suggest the ministry has already referred the tradition-versus-comfort question to the Committee of Secretaries. This is a decision that needs to be taken quickly, as the venue will determine the length of the guest list.