The monsoon residence of the Maharashtra governor is playing host to a high-profile guest. Opposition outcry notwithstanding, Raj Bhavan in Pune welcomed Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi yesterday night.
Officials from the governor’s house claimed that along with Gandhi’s ‘guest’ status, his Z+ security cover, which is provided by National Security Guard (NSG), did not allow him to stay at a private hotel and that was the reason he had to spend the night at Raj Bhavan. Even as the Congress chose to play down the incident, the opposition saw politics in this hospitality.
Coming down heavily on Raj Bhavan officials, state BJP president Devendra Fadanvis said that the governor’s house should not turn into a den of political activities. He added that non-Congress leaders bestowed with Z+ security would never have been treated as a state guest by the governor.
“Gandhi did not visit the city for any official reason, but to strengthen his party’s base in the district keeping an eye on the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. That’s why his stay at Raj Bhavan is ethically wrong,” said Fadanvis. The BJP leader also maintained that the governor being a non-partisan constitutional post, Sankaranarayanan should not allow any guest who’s visiting the city for political purposes. While Raj Bhavan officials pointed out security concerns, sources said that the Congress MP from Amethi had stayed in a private hotel in Kendrapara district of Odisha during campaigning for the 2009 general elections.
Speaking to MiD DAY, Umesh Kashikar, public relations officer of Raj Bhavan, said that it was entirely the governor’s prerogative as to who should be allowed to stay at his residence. He said it was true that usually only governors of other states, the President of India, and the Chief Justice of India are allowed to stay at Raj Bhavan.
However, as Gandhi has Z+ security, for him Raj Bhavan was the most secure place to stay in the city. However, a senior police officer from the special branch told this newspaper on the condition of anonymity that Gandhi’s stay at Raj Bhavan was entirely the party’s decision. He added that cops had received an order from the party high command to be present for bandobast at Raj Bhavan.
Plan for the day
Rahul Gandhi is to hold a party meeting in the city today. All district level and block level workers have been invited for the gathering. Leaders from Vidarbha, parts of Marathwada and northern Maharashtra had already attend the meeting in Nagpur, while leaders from the remaining parts of the state are attending today. MPs, members of state legislative assembly and council are also expected to be present. Smooth landing: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi at Pune airport last night. He is in the city to meet party workers.