Stars, party workers throng Modi show

Protocol did not allow Prime Minister to be seated along with the Governor, who is the master of all ceremonies.

india Updated: Dec 23, 2002 09:49 IST

Protocol almost threatened to mar the BJP's grand event showcasing Narendra Modi when the Gujarat administration woke up to the fact that the Prime Minister could not be made to share the stage with Governor Sunder Singh Bhandari, who is the master of ceremonies at the chief minister's swearing-in.

The administration got around the problem by erecting a separate stage for the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and chief ministers of other states who turned up for the function at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad.

This is the first time that a Prime Minister has attended the swearing in ceremony of a chief minister.

There were, in fact, four stages. The main stage was reserved for the Governor, who administered the oath, the ministers designate and officials connected with the oath-taking ceremony.

There was one for eminent personalities from the film industry, television and the businesses, as well as for BJP leaders. An exclusive stage was set up for saints from various temples, including the Akshardham temple, which was the site of a terrorist attack in September.

The audience, of course, paid maximum attention to the stage that held the actors, with Juhi Chawla, Vinod Khanna and Naresh Kanodia waving to the people.

But, the entire stadium gave a standing ovation to the Prime Minister when he emerged from the specially erected elevator and waved to the people with the Deputy Prime Minister, Modi and Jayalalitha in tow.

The crowds did not let down the BJP, nearly a lakh turning up for the show. All the stadium's galleries were full, and so were the grounds.

When the teeming thousands dispersed without any accident after the ceremonies, the policemen heaved sighs of relief.

There were a few tense moments when a stampede seemed about to take place with BJP supporters pushing forward for a closer look at Modi, who climbed down the stage to greet the people from an open jeep.

Minister Ashok Bhatt, who probably sensed the danger, appealed to the crowds over the public address system not to push forward.

Outside the stadium, some people dressed in traditional costumes beat drums as BJP supporters passed by shouting slogans like Bharat Mata ki jai and Dekho dekho kaun aya, Gujarat ka sher aya.

Though many private television channels telecast the swearing-in ceremony live, many people from the middle and upper middle class from fashionable areas of Ahmedabad turned up at the Sardar Patel Stadium to witness the event.

First Published: Dec 23, 2002 09:49 IST