Masks, social distancing protocols at Darbar Hall for swearing-in ceremony

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New Delhi, Jul 7 (PTI) While all eyes were on Wednesday riveted at the Rashtrapati Bhavan for the swearing-in of new ministers, the ceremony held under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic did not see the usual scenes of public bonhomie as leaders maintained social distancing.

All the dignitaries present, including President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, were wearing masks during the nearly 90-minute event at the Darbar Hall where two platforms had been installed.

Representatives from different political parties especially leaders of opposition in both houses of parliament were missing as the number of invitees was restricted due to the COVID-19 protocol.

Only one family member of each minister was allowed. Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, besides a few top officials including P K Mishra, principal secretary to the prime minister, were also in attendance.

Several Union Ministers, besides those who had just tendered their resignation such as Ravi Shankar Prasad and Prakash Javadekar were among those present.

While most of the ministers took oath in Hindi, there were a few such as former Assam chief minister Sarbanada Sonowal who chose English.

A majority of the new ministers had donned traditional dresses.

The inductees were sitting in two groups and allocated different platforms for taking oath on their respective sides.

The masks were only briefly removed while taking the oath and later on for a group picture.

The usual hugging and handshaking between the leaders after the conclusion of the oath-taking ceremony were missing as leaders preferred to greet each other with folded hands.

Fifteen Cabinet ministers and 28 ministers of state were sworn in at the ceremony. PTI JTR RT RT

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