New Delhi: Pranab Mukherjee will be sworn in as the 13th President of India on Wednesday. He will take oath in the Central Hall of Parliament. But before that, he will pay respects at Rajghat, Shakti Sthal and Veer Bhumi. After that he will meet outgoing President Pratibha Patil, who will preside over her final guard of honour.
Chief Justice of India SH Kapadia will administer the oath to Mukherjee at 11:30 am in the presence of Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Union Ministers, Governors, Chief Ministers and a host of dignitaries.
All the UPA allies, including Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, will be present at the swearing-in ceremony. Mamata on Tuesday met Pranab Mukherjee and congratulated him on being elected to the top post. Mamata drove to his Talkatora Road residence straight from the Delhi airport soon after her arrival from Kolkata.
Pranab had defeated tribal leader PA Sangma in a virtual no-contest, getting 69 per cent votes in the President poll.
But the opposition is in mood to give in just yet. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Sangma will move the Supreme Court next week to challenge Pranab's election on the ground that he held an office of profit while filing his nomination.
Pranab Mukherjee has a slew of issues to deal with the crucial one being the pending mercy petition of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. Speaking to CNN-IBN Deputy Editor Sagarika Ghose, Pranab had said that he will study Afzal Guru's plea and will comment on it only after that.
Pranab's swearing-in function will begin with the arrival of President Pratibha Patil and President-elect Mukherjee in a ceremonial procession from the Rashtrapati Bhawan to the Parliament Building. They will be received by Kapadia, Ansari and Kumar and escorted to the Central Hall.
After Mukherjee takes over, he will be given a 21-gun salute, address the gathering and then leave for the Rashtrapati Bhawan with Patil. Mukherjee will be given an inter-services guard of honour in the forecourt of the Presidential palace.
He will then escort Patil to her temporary accommodation on Tughlak Lane where she will stay till her post-retirement home in Pune is ready.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) will activate its air defence (AD) shield in and around the capital to thwart any threat to the swearing-in ceremony of the supreme commander of the armed forces.
Such security cover is provided during major events including the Independence Day and Republic Day and was also in place during the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
Apart from the number of air defence weapons such as the Pechora and OSA-AK surface-to-air missile squadrons deployed in the NCR, fighter jets like Sukhoi-30MKIs and MiG-21 'Bisons' will now be put on a stand-by at nearby airbases.
To further secure the skies over the capital, the airspace may also be closed for the duration of the swearing-in ceremony.
Commuter services at three Delhi Metro stations, Central Secretariat, Udyog Bhawan and Khan Market, will be suspended for two hours on Wednesday due to security restrictions in view of the swearing-in ceremony of Mukherjee.
(With additional information from PTI)