Lavish swearing-in ceremony makes babus squirm

  • Surendra P Gangan and Jigar Shah, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Oct 30, 2014 01:01 IST

The stage is set for the swearing-in of CM-elect Devendra Fadnavis at Wankhede Stadium on Friday, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) going all out to ensure the event is a lavish one, befitting the coronation of a king. But the government machinery is finding it difficult to live up to the party’s demands.

The BJP has roped in art director Nitin Chandrakant Desai, who has won National Awards for set design and art direction for films like Devdas, Lagaan, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, among others.

“The ceremony will have the same grandeur as that of the rajya abhishek of Chattrapati Shivaji maharaj, the first ruler of Maharashtra,” said Desai.

A virtual image of the Meghdambari (the king’s royal umbrella) will be created in front of the podium. “The idea is to pay homage to the first ruler of Maharashtra and seek his blessings before taking oath as the people’s chosen leader,” Desai said.

The CM-to-be has requested Desai to create a set that reflects the history of the state, and present-day Maharashtra. Fadnavis also wanted the stage to reflect his image as a people’s leader.

With nearly 33,000 people expected to attend the function, LED screens will be installed on the ground “At such short notice and limited budget, we have tried our best to fulfil the expectations,” Desai said.

While Desai may be working on a tight budget, the government machinery is finding it default to cope with the expenditure.

A decision was taken to extend the stage and divide it into three parts. This came after the party leaders were informed that, according to protocol, the governor cannot share the dais with others. The stage will now accommodate about 180 dignitaries.

The protocol department made it clear that the government will not bear the additional expenses. Government norms allow to bear the cost for sitting arrangements, a pandal, drinking water and vehicles for new ministers.

The MCA, however, has waived off the rent for the ground. Desai said he had taken care not to damage the ground. “We have taken every possible care to keep it safe.”

An official from the general administration department said there will be a musical programme by music director Ashok Hande. “The actual ceremony will be for 35 minutes. There will be no speeches during the main function,” he said.

Sumit Mullick, additional chief secretary, GAD said, “There will be 5,000 VIPs sitting in front of the stage, while another 28,000 will be accommodated in galleries.”

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