The VIPs visiting Rashtrapati Bhavan will not be allowed to bring their spouses, and the buffet system will be missing from the event in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.
There will be no freedom fighters at the ceremony this time and free interaction with VIPs won't be allowed. Expected to begin around 6 p.m., the event has an arrangement this time for four people on a table in view of safety of VIPs gathered there.
These are among the restrictions that will be in place in a new protocol-wrapped ceremony to be held against the backdrop of COVID-19.
Requesting anonymity, a source at the Rashtrapati Bhavan told IANS that the safety of dignitaries is the reason behind the move to curtail the guest list this year.
“It will be a simple ceremony this time as compared to previous years,” said the source.
Earlier, the guest list would touch 1,500, the source said. It is learnt that Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who was infected with COVID-19 and was on Friday declared negative, will not be attending the event.
Ministers of state have not been invited this year unlike previous years, the source said. Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde, Delhi High Court's chief justice D.N. Patel and a few senior judges of the Supreme Court have been invited. Earlier, all Supreme Court judges and various Delhi High court judges were invited to the event.
Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba and a few senior secretaries are among the list of bureaucrats who have been invited.
President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former President Pratibha Patil, former Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and H.D. Deve Gowda, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President JP Nadda and Congress President Sonia Gandhi will sit in a designated area maintaining social distancing. Other guests will not be allowed to enter that area.
Digital infrared thermometers, sanitisers, and masks will be placed at the entrance when guests will join the event. Unlike previous years, the President and the Prime Minister this time will greet guests maintaining social distancing with folded hands and avoid shake hands.