Celebrations for the 70th Republic Day began Saturday with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in attendance as the chief guest, amid heavy security deployment in the city. Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid his tributes to the martyrs by laying a wreath at Amar Jawan Jyoti in the presence of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the three service chiefs. Later Modi, wearing his traditional kurta pajama and trademark Nehru jacket, reached the Rajpath and received and greeted President Ram Nath Kovind and the chief guest. At the unfurling of the tricolour, the band played the national anthem with a 21-gun salute fired in the background.
Most of the ministers of the Modi government, including Home Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, and former prime ministers Manmohan Singh and Deve Gowda, Congress veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad were among those present on the occasion.The overall theme for the Republic Day celebrations this year is the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and tableaux of many states, themed on the iconic freedom fighter, are lined up for the occasion.