President Ramnath Kovind cut down the guest list at the ‘At-Home’ reception hosted at Rashtrapati Bhavan for Republic Day this year. As reported by Times of India, the guest list was trimmed from over 2,000 to just 724 and the President made it a point to not invite even his immediate family. Only the First Lady was present at the event. Earlier, in 2016, 2,374 were invited whereas 2,015 were invited in 2017.
The list, instead, included achievers like CBSE, ISC and UPSC toppers, athletes like Phogat Sisters and Under 17 football captain Amarjit Singh. The list also included Milind Kamble, an entrepreneur who established the Dalit Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The family of IAF commando Corporal Jyoti Prakash Nirala, who was awarded the Ashok Chakra posthumously at the Republic Day function in the morning, was also received by the President at the ‘At Home’.
The thought process behind this redesigning of the list seems to be in line with the general theme of the Padma Awards which were announced recently. Unlike the regular list, this one was not crowded with popular figures from Bollywood, FICCI, Lutyens or Indian cricket team. Apart from Illyaraja , MS Dhoni and Pankaj Advani, most of the awardees were lesser known people who have excelled in their own spheres. They were no where close to the power centers/lobbies/wheeler dealers of Delhi.
As far as the guest list for the President’s dinner is concerned, it was interesting to note that reportedly, many bigwigs from Lutyens zone were missing from the list were . According to the report, the idea was to include people from various spectrums of the society and move away from the South Delhi zone.
While the list was brought down to 724, the mandatory invitees, such as Members of Parliament, former chief justices, heads of defence forces, high commissioners and ambassadors and various constitutional figures were present. It is believed President Kovind wanted to keep the gathering exclusive without the crowd of a large number of guests.
Vice President M Venkaih Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting 10 Heads of ASEAN nations who were chief guests at Republic Day Parade and many members of the Union Council of Minister were present at the reception at the sprawling Mughal Garden.