The red carpet is being rolled out like never before to a bevy of leaders attending Prime Minister- designate Narendra Modi’s swearing-in on Monday. All the fine niceties of protocol, which form a large part of diplomacy, will be in place as well.
The ball will be set rolling with a warm reception for each guest on arrival at the ceremonial lounge of the Indira Gandhi international airport in Delhi. Bookings have been made at all major five-star hotels in central Delhi for the VVIP guests.
Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who is arriving in Delhi on Monday morning, will be staying at the Taj Mansingh.
Both the Bangladesh speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury — who is arriving at 12:20pm on Sunday and is the first guest to arrive for the ceremony — as well as the Nepal prime minister Sushil Kumar Koirala will be put up at the ITC Maurya on Sardar Patel Marg.
The adjacent Taj Palace hotel will play host to the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his Maldives counterpart Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom. The President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai and the prime minister of Mauritius Navin Ramgoolam will reside at the Oberoi hotel.
The Leela Palace will play host to Bhutan prime minister Tshering Tobgay, who arrives at 1pm on Sunday.
Apart from ensuring that hospitality remains top-notch, the external affairs ministry has also brought back former chief of protocol Ruchira Kamboj for the duration of the ceremony. The security factors and the preference of the guests will be taken into account while deciding on where they will be put up, officials said.
All the leaders will be spending a majority of their time at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Monday, and arrangements have been accordingly made in the guest wing.
On Tuesday, Narendra Modi will have separate meetings with all the leaders at the Hyderabad house, which are expected to begin at 9:30am and are expected to be over in three-and-a-half hours. “But when heads of states or government get talking, planned schedules can go awry”, said an official familiar with the planning.
Proto col demands that presidents (individuals who are both heads-of-state and governments ) are given preference over prime ministers. Since presidents of three countries, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Afghanistan, are attending the ceremony, the pecking order could be decided in alphabetical order. However, though there will be flexibility at the bilateral meeting, depending on the departure time of the guests.