PM, Sonia at home at Presidentís R-Day function

FP

Departing from practice, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Saturday walked around to meet with invitees at the "at home" reception hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan on the occasion of the 64th Republic Day.

Moving out of the special enclosure for VVIPs on the lawn, both the Prime Minister and Sonia walked alongside the temporary barriers created to separate the 600-odd guests and accepted felicitations for Republic Day. Separately President Pranab Mukherjee as well as the chief guest for the Republic Day parade, King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk of Bhutan, and his wife Jetsun Pema also did the rounds to meet with the invitees.

Mukherjee had deviated from protocol in the last "at home" on the occasion of Independence Day to mingle with invitees. Prime Minister Singh and Sonia had then accepted felicitations while seated in the special enclosure with a few invitees permitted to line up and pay their respects.

Several senior ministers including Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Defence Minister AK Antony, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Railway Minister Pawan Bansal were present and were seen mingling with the guests.

Top bureaucrats including Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon as well as the three defence services chiefs were also present.

The function was also graced by ambassadors of various countries besides representatives of media, industry and political sphere.

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