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New Delhi, Oct 31 (IANS) Mobile cameras were held aloft and the crowd surged forward with chants of “Modi, Modi” as soon as Prime Minister Narendra Modi climbed down the dais to flag off the Run for Unity here Friday to mark the 139th birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
The security personnel, who till then were strictly preventing the people from moving forward, were unable to prevent the surge of the crowd from getting closer to the prime minister as he walked down for some length of Rajpath.
Soon it was like a mad melee, and security personnel looked helpless as the participants collected enthusiastically to join Modi in the Run for Unity.
The Special Protection Group (SPG) soon swung into action and formed a ring around Modi as he led the run with a few selected sportspersons, including wrestler Sushil Kumar, boxer Vijender Singh and cricketer Gautam Gambhir.
The enthusiastic crowd was undeterred. Even as some tried their best to come close to Modi, many others took out their mobiles to click Modi’s photograph.
A pair of shoes and a change of clothes
Jogging shoes were the order of the day, as everyone, young and old alike came sporting such footwear in order to join the run.
From school children to college students, to members of the security forces, including the National Security Guards and Sashastra Seema Bal, and government officials, most came prepared for the short run from Vijay Chowk to India Gate.
While some officials who are of the sporty kind were in full sports gear, with jogging tracksuits and shoes, most others wore jogging shoes.
Most government officials, who came attired in sporting gear for the run, brought along their formal office attire too in order to quickly change before entering office at 9 a.m.
Subhash, an official of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation, said he kept the change of clothes in his car and would change before attending office.
No littering please
Keeping in mind the piles of strewn plastic bottles, wrappers and paper plates on Rajpath lawns that had fetched bad publicity Oct 2 when the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan or Clean India campaign was launched by Modi, the crowd gathered for the Run for Unity was requested not to litter.
“Please remember to throw away the water bottles in the dustbins,” a woman announcer repeatedly requested the crowd before Modi arrived at the venue.
The organisers kept large stacks of 250 ml water bottles at the venue for the participants. But there were not enough dustbins to be found.
Sure enough, empty bottles were flung on the lawns of Rajpath.
But apparently wiser after the last experience, the authorities did not wait for the lawns to empty out of crowds before beginning the cleaning up.
Cleaners were busy quickly picking up strewn plastic bottles with great alacrity while the participants were still running the length from Vijay Chowk to India Gate.
Some of the fixed large dustbins near India Gate were surprisingly kept facing downwards.
For all the attention Swachh Bharat is getting, the parking area outside the premier National Museum, facing the plush Jawaharlal Nehru Bhavan, was seen littered with rubbish at 7 a.m.
IFS trainees join Run for Unity
New Indian Foreign Service (IFS) trainees of the Foreign Service Institute, accompanied by their Dean Nengcha Lhouvum – all attired in jogging attire – were among the participants of the Run for Unity.
While the dean, a senior external affairs ministry official, was allowed to go into the special enclosure for government officials to join other senior officials, including Joint Secretary Ajay Bisari, who all were geared up for the run, the IFS trainees were not allowed to join her.
After a lot of pleading and cajoling, the police finally allowed them inside.