All praise for madam President

Senior state ministers were irked to see speakers shower praises on the President instead of commenting on the State Legislature's platinum jubilee

The who's who of state politics congregated at Vidhan Bhavan yesterday to mark the platinum jubilee celebrations of the State Legislature yesterday.

The spectacular gala was inaugurated by President Pratibha Patil and was attended by several state ministers, Governors of four states and some Union ministers.

Auspicious start: President Pratibha Patil lights the lamp. Pic/Bipin Kokate

However, at a time when tributes were being paid to the State, Union Minister Sharad Pawar's speech raised several eyebrows during the celebrations.

Pawar spent a considerable time heaping praise on President Patil and her contribution to state politics, which did not go down well with several ministers.

The show must go on: Realising that the cultural show organised for
the celebrations would run into overtime, Anand Kalse, the administrator
at the Vidhan Bhavan, took the decision to end the programme at 9.45 pm.
However, the Shivaji Maharaj Rajya Abhishek was yet to be performed.
Hence, the organiser Nitin Desai requested for some extra time. When
this was denied, all the guests, including President Patil, left. Undeterrred
by the empty halls, the performers continued thier show.
Pics/Bipin Kokate

"She is a Vikramaditya, as she, her husband and son have served as members of the Legislature," said Pawar.

A source said, "Several ministers felt uncomfortable during Pawar's speech. Instead of talking about the State Legislature, he was busy heaping words of praise on the President. It was not the right platform to do so."

Other speakers like former Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh also spent a considerable time praising the President. The two-and-a-half hour function started off with the President offering a few words of advice to the government about the much-delayed projects in the state. "People are eager to see overall progress and legislators too, feel overburdened with their expectations. So, the government should pay attention and ensure the timely completion of development projects."

Not so pleased
Another incident that raised some dissent among the ministers was the felicitation of Nitin Desai for his ace art direction.  And it was not just Desai's felicitation that raised some eyebrows. While senior members of the Legislature like Ganpatrao Deshmukh and BT Deshmukh were felicitated, not a single woman member's contribution was recognised.  Many members felt that Mrinal Gore, who represented Goregaon in the past, should have been felicitated, said a politician.

Invitations mess
Rajeev Shukla, Union Minister of state for Parliamentary Affairs, was not among the list of invitees for the event. However, his last minute wish to attend the function sent the State Legislature Secretariat into a tizzy.

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