Chaos ruled the second day of the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Divas as several delegates virtually ran from pillar to post even to find a place to sit.
The main hall at the Birla Auditorium, the venue of the inaugural function, was full half an hour before the start of the programme where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh delivered his inaugural address on Sunday and those who came later were asked to go to the balcony.
The capacity of the hall was around 1,400 and there were nearly 1,900 delegates who came to attend the event. Miffed NRIs got into arguments with police personnel and volunteers who were managing the crowd inside the hall while organisers drew flak for the space crunch.
There were also reports that cricket legend Brian Lara, part of the delegation of Chief Guest of the event the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, was taken to the auditorium after a delay as there was no space inside.
Within a few minutes, the balcony also was full and there were no chairs even for delegates to sit forcing a few of them to look for space on the ground floor of the auditorium.
The event’s host Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot admitted as much in his speech.
“I am aware that there is limited space in the hall, which troubled some of the delegates. I assure you that next time we will have these kind of events at much bigger venue,” he said.
Many people, including delegates, kept standing on the stairs on the ground floor prompting announcements to be made by the organisers that the Special Protection Group will not allow the Prime Minister to come to the stage unless everyone take their seats as it is a security issue.
Many people had to run from the balcony to the ground floor to find a place to sit.
For journalists, who had turned up in large numbers, it was no different as they had to sit at the back of the hall through the inaugural session.
“I came to the venue at 8.40 AM. I was asked to go to the balcony, but I could not find a place there too. I kept running and finally had to sit on the stairs and listen to the speakers,” a delegate from Malaysia said on condition of anonymity.
The delegates blamed the organisers for the chaos and said they should have found a larger space for the programme or restricted the number of invitees to the event.