New Delhi, Aug 15 (IANS) As grey clouds gathered in the sky in the evening -- but mercifully did not rain, the majestic Rashtrapati Bhavan lawns Thursday saw President Pranab Mukherjee warmly greeting hundreds of guests, who included political leaders and dignitaries, at the annual presidential reception on Independence Day.
With the presidential band striking up some lively tunes, President Pranab Mukherjee mingled with his guests, including Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi, and opposition leaders L.K. Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley - all from the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
With dragon flies flitting about on the lawns and the peafowl calling loudly in the backdrop, the spacious Rashtrapati Bhavan lawns made the perfect setting for the At Home reception. The gathering of VVIPs included ministers, ambassadors, bureaucrats and artistes.
President Mukherjee, who has broken away from tradition to mingle with the crowds, Thursday too took a detour after meeting with the dignitaries and greeted the eager crowds with a namastey.
The presidential guards in their white and gold liveries stood on guard while the smartly turned out Aide-de-Camps were all attendance as Mukherjee walked among the crowd meeting people.
President Mukherjee spent a while chatting with BJP leaders Advani, and the two leaders of opposition in parliament, Sushma Swaraj and Jaitley -- and camerapersons made the most of the photo-op, what with the monsoon session still on and crucial bills, including the Food Security Bill, yet to be passed.
After President Mukherjee had met the people, it was the turn of the others to meet and greet each other. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met the dignitaries gathered.
Among the envoys present were those of immediate neighbours - including Pakistan High Commissioner Salman Bashir and Bangladesh High Commissioner Tariq Karim.
The president's wife Suvra Mukherjee was also present.
--Indo-Asian News service