Mounted bodyguards, hazar sallam - Regal grandeur marks Pranab’s swearing-in

July 25th, 2012 - 5:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Pranab Mukherjee New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) Liveried bodyguards in turbans riding horses, a thousand armed forces personnel presenting a ‘hazar salaam’ salute, the presidential cavalcade moving slowly to Parliament House, a 21-gun salute - the swearing-in of Pranab Mukherjee as India’s 13th president, was marked by regal grandeur.

The ceremony Wednesday was high on protocol from the time Mukherjee was brought to Rashtrapati Bhavan ahead of the swearing-in at about 10.40 a.m. As the long black limousine carrying Mukherjee and outgoing president Pratibha Patil moved in a slow cavalcade to Parliament House, they were accompanied by the President’s
Bodyguard on horses.

All along Raisina Hill were positioned 1,000 personnel from the three services, who accorded the moving cavalcade the traditional Hazar Salam - or the thousand salute - for the president, who is the supreme commander of the armed forces.

At the steps of Parliament House, the protocol became more evident as Pratibha Patil, stood ahead of Mukherjee as she was presented her final national salute by the mounted bodyguards, along with the blowing of bugles.

Mukherjee, accompanied by Vice President Hamid Ansari, the chairman of the Rajya Sabha, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia, then walked slowly on the red carpet to the Central Hall of Parliament with Patil walking behind them.

As they entered the Central Hall, they were greeted by all the dignitaries, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi. They walked to the dais, where Patil took the central seat with Mukherjee and the CJI seated to her right, and Meira Kumar and Ansari to her left.

Home Secretary R.K. Singh, after first seeking permission of the outgoing president, then read out the Election Commission notification on the election of Mukherjee as president. Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia then administered the oath to Mukherjee. The time was 11.28 a.m.

When Mukherjee stepped back to the dais, Patil and he switched seats with him occupying the central seat.

A 21-gun salute followed as Mukherjee signed the oath register. He then delivered his acceptance speech, his first address as president.

After his speech, the home secretary sought Mukherjee’s permission to convey the news of the new president to the government ministries and diplomatic missions - a formality, but part of protocol. Mukherjee nodded in assent, after which the national anthem was played. The home secretary then sought formal permission to declare the ceremony closed.

When Mukherjee, Patil, Ansari, Meira Kumar and the CJI walked back to the gate of Parliament House, it was now Mukherjee as president who was walking behind them. Mukherjee got his first national salute as president from the mounted body guards on the steps of the Parliament House. This time, he stood in front and Patil was behind him.

In Rashtrapati Bhavan, Mukherjee inspeccted a guard of honour in an open jeep, after which he was taken round in the horse-driven presidential buggy. Patil was given her final guard of honour in the open jeep, and then Mukherjee accompanied her in the limousine to her new house in Tughlaq Lane.

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