The Telegraph
 
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Psst! Among the 1250?

New Delhi, May 22: Everyone in the BJP wants to attend Narendra Modi’s Monday swearing-in but the party is struggling with its guest list, the President’s office having set the standard ceiling of 1,250.

That’s the maximum that Rashtrapati Bhavan’s forecourt can accommodate after the President’s office follows protocol by inviting another 1,250 guests.

The hopefuls range from members of the BJP national executive and national council to officials from the party’s state and district units and front organisations.

Among the guests will be the 777 MPs from the two Houses who, mercifully for the BJP, figure on the President’s list. Like every year, they have been told they cannot bring their spouses — a directive that apparently led some BJP lawmakers to protest but in vain.

The ministers to be sworn in with Modi can bring just four family members each. The Prime Minister-designate, of course, can bring as many as 20 from his family.

However, given the distance Modi keeps from his family, rarely visiting even his mother Hiraben who lives with his younger brother Pankaj in Gandhinagar, BJP sources weren’t sure whether any of them might show up.

They said that Hiraben, 92, might come if she was physically fit enough and in that case there would be family members accompanying her. She had travelled in an auto-rickshaw to cast her vote this election.

The BJP was initially inclined to invite all the chief ministers, including those from the Congress, but there’s some uncertainty now after Jayalalithaa sounded iffy following the invite to Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Sources said the BJP might now ask only the NDA chief ministers to come to spare itself “embarrassment”. But that will do little to ease the pressure on the guest list.

Waiting in the wings are the 76 BJP national executive members. No such hopes for the national council delegates — they’re definitely out.

A “huge” Gujarat contingent has booked air and train tickets out of Gandhinagar, hoping to cheer Modi for the umpteenth time. Till late tonight, the BJP managers here had no idea just how many they were.

From the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, only joint general secretary Suresh Soni is expected at the event.

The President’s invitees include ambassadors and envoys and former Presidents A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Pratibha Patil. Leaders from all major political parties too are expected to turn up.

The question buzzing in the BJP’s head is: will Sonia and Rahul Gandhi turn up and greet Modi personally?