With Haryana governor Kaptan Singh Solanki continuing to hold the charge of Punjab governor and UT Administrator, a joint ‘At Home’ was held at the Punjab Raj Bhawan Monday evening.
“The normal practice is that the Punjab and Haryana governors host their respective receptions. The joint ‘At Home’ happened for the second time in history as far as we can remember,” said a Raj Bhawan official, adding that the first time it happened was on the previous Independence Day.
What this meant was the who’s who from both the states and the union territory converged at the sprawling Raj Bhawan lawns. Sharp at 5.30pm, the scheduled start of the function, Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s SUV drove in.
In next five minutes, sporting a sleeveless grayish jacket, Solanki stepped out to greet the invitees who stood on either side of the red carpet. The septuagenarian, who had fainted during his address in the morning, looked weak. Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, wearing a white safari suit, was the first to greet him, followed by others including Chandigarh’s celebrity MP Kirron Kher, attired in an off-white ethnic wear and stylish shades.
The governor -- followed by Badal, Khattar, Kher and other politicians and bureaucrats -- headed straight to the air-conditioned shamaina, which had been set up for the first time, on the other side of the lawns. In a few minutes it had turned into sort of a VVIP chamber where the governor and other dignitaries sat on the velvet sofas. These included the two CMs, Punjab and Haryana chief justice Shaivax Jal Vazifdar, Haryana cabinet minister Ram Bilas Sharma, Punjab chief secretary Sarvesh Kaushal and UT Adviser Parimal Rai. All those desirous of having ‘darshan’ of the governor queued up outside the shamiana.
Until about five-six years ago, the governors would move around and mingle with the invitees. In the recent years it changed; the governor would come, greet people and then move to the gazebo in a corner of the lawns so that people could meet them.
This shamiana was the latest addition. Outside it too, there was a glittering crowd, and they didn’t seem to mind the humid weather. Haryana DGP KP Singh in his uniform was seen giggling after an army officer requested him for a selfie. Standing in a faraway corner, his Punjab counterpart Suresh Arora too had just got a selfie request from someone. Many others like governor’s principal secretary MP Singh, Chandigarh deputy commissioner Ajit Balaji Joshi, Haryana bureaucrats Ram Niwas, Hardeep Kumar and Anil Kumar (who came with his IAS daughter Nazuk) merrily mingled with people.
In all about 2,000 people turned in from different walks of life. These included Punjab and Haryana speakers Charanjit Atwal and Kanwar Pal, MPs Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Prem Singh Chandumajra, Haryana chief secretary DS Dhesi, GOC-in-C Western command Lt Gen Gurdeep Singh, British deputy high commissioner David Lelliott and Canadian Consulate general Christopher Gibbins.
Several local politicians also showed up, including Satya Pal Jain, Sanjay Tandon, Davinder Babla and Chandermukhi Sharma. Also present were freedom fighters, retired public servants and defense officers, and of course, the I-Day awardees.