As yoga enthusiasts started arriving at the Capitol Complex venue around 4 a.m., the sky remained overcast. But there was no rain just before or during the event.
However, minutes after the function ended and Prime Minister Narendra Modi left the venue, the area in and around the venue got another downpour. The organisers were not tense this time.
The Capitol Complex venue, a creation of Chandigarh’s founder-architect Le Corbusier, was selected as the venue of the second edition of the International Day of Yoga by none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself.
Modi, while addressing the yoga enthusiasts. disclosed that he had visited the place many years back and thought of it as the most probable venue when it was decided to have the yoga day.
Modi, before he became the Gujarat chief minister in 2001, lived in Chandigarh for five years as in-charge of the BJP for Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. “I have visited this place (venue),” Modi told the gathering.
This was Modi’s second visit to the Capitol Complex in six months. He hosted French President Francis Hollande at the venue on January 24 during the latter’s state visit to India.
Unprecedented security for yoga day
Chandigarh saw unprecedented security in the run-up to the International Day for Yoga. Security agencies, including the Prime Minister’s elite Special Protection Group (SPG), had secured the Capitol Complex.
All roads from the technical area of Chandigarh airport to the Punjab Raj Bhawan to the yoga venue were put under strict guard by paramilitary commandos and other security agencies. All alternative routes for VVIP movement were also under a security blanket.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in Chandigarh around 10 p.m. on Monday and stayed overnight at the Punjab Raj Bhawan. He reached the yoga day venue before 7 a.m. and involved himself in the activities there.
Scores of security personnel from Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, central forces and military personnel were also specially trained in recent days to perform yoga on Tuesday with Modi.
The area where a red mat was laid out for the prime minister to do yoga had SPG and other security personnel, in track-suits, doing yoga as well. However, security personnel in and around the venue had no opportunity to do yoga or meditate as they stood guard round-the-clock.
Good morning media!
Media personnel covering the yoga event were directed to assemble at two locations at 3.30 a.m. on Tuesday though the real action was to start at 6.30 a.m.
The Press Information Bureau and the Chandigarh Public Relations department fixed the early hour as the assembly time for media personnel wanting to gain entry to the Capitol Complex venue. Only those with valid entry passes, made earlier, were allowed entry.
Since private vehicles were not allowed, the media had only one way to reach the venue – on board the official buses. It was also conveyed in the instructions that the media entry would not be allowed at the venue after 5 a.m.
“Thank god there is no yoga beat for reporters. Life would have become so miserable,” one young reporter quipped.