VIP wedding reception robs students of college ground

Published: 01 December, 2011 10:02 IST | Priyankka Deshpande |

As grand arrangements for Cong MLC Mohan Joshi's daughter's Dec 3 reception make Agri College ground unusable, students keen on sports and those preparing for police physical training test have nowhere to practise.

As grand arrangements for Cong MLC Mohan Joshi's daughter's Dec 3 reception make Agri College ground unusable, students keen on sports and those preparing for police physical training test have nowhere to practise.

Preparations for the high-profile wedding reception of city Congress MLC Mohan Joshi's daughter Ritika on the sprawling premises of Agriculture College are causing inconvenience to many students preparing for the police sub-inspector's physical test The wedding ceremony was held yesterday at private club in the city, while the reception will take place on December 3 and will see around 5,000 VIPs along with 15,000 other invitees. 

Students who come for physical training practice every evening on the Agriculture College ground are being told by the wedding event manager to stay away from the venue for the next few days, till the ceremony is over. The huge ground, for which Joshi is reportedly paying a rent of Rs 3.5 lakh, has been dug up at several places to build the pandal, a colossal stage, entrance and artificial fountain. 

All work, no play: A spot at the Agriculture College ground that has 
been dug up to put up a temporary washroom for MLC Mohan Joshi's 
daughter's wedding reception on December 3

The state of the basketball court that will be used as the dining area for
 VIPs. Pics/Ishan Ghosh  

For Shweta Shinde, who is preparing to crack the PSI exam in her first attempt, all this is a big nuisance. "These obstacles reduce our jogging speed and we are unable to do our daily practice," Shinde said. "The Shivaji Nagar police station's premises are available for us only after 6 pm, when we can't practice because it gets dark by then. This is the only ground where we can practise, but now it seems that it will not be available for us for next four to five days, which will result in a gap in our preparations." 

Shinde added that when she asked the event manager whether they would fill up the parts that have been dug, the manager did not answer. The basketball ground on the premises has been turned into a dining area for VIPs, while a small tree has been cut to make space for a temporary washroom. Some space on the approximately four-acre premises has also kept vacant for car parking for VIPs, while the middle section of the ground has been dug to put up the three-layer stage and artificial fountain. 

A temporary kitchen has also been constructed and many halogen lights have been fitted around the ground. A group of students who came forward to highlight their plight when MiD DAY visited the ground. "For last four years we never got this ground to play or for any kind of physical exercise," said a student, requesting anonymity. "After every two months this ground has been given for various events by the college authorities, which has caused us great inconvenience."

Political pressure
A staff member of Agriculture College said despite a decision to not rent out the ground for events, there often was political pressure to make the ground available. "Earlier, a decision has been taken to not give the college ground for any event. But we are forced to give it when there is political pressure from top leaders," said the staff member, requesting anonymity. 

Costly affair 
According to the city-based event manager for the reception, Joshi spent approximately Rs 60 lakh only on the pandal, stage decoration with a tableau of a fort, lights and the entrance for his daughter's wedding reception. Joshi claimed that the expenditure would not be more than Rs 6 lakh."The menu will include only Maharashtrian dishes, which will be cooked by our personal chefs," Joshi said. The food will come from Mumbai for VIPs while other people will be served food cooked in the city. A lot of money also seems to have been spent on security measures like CCTV cameras and sniffer dogs. 

It is learnt that well-known flautist from Indore Sushil Sharma's bansuri sangeet has also been organised for a large amount of money, said people close to Joshi. Joshi's daughter Ritika is a playgroup teacher in Sunderji Institute, while groom Shamit has a mobile dealership. 

Long list of VIP invitees
The chief ministers of Congress-ruled states, including state CM Prithviraj Chavan and Governor K Sankaranarayanan, will be present for the function. Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways C P Joshi, Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot and Congress general secretary Oscar Fernandez, BJP leader Gopinath Munde, Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray will be the confirmed guests at the reception. Hundreds of MLAs from all major political parties and general secretaries of Congress will be present on the occasion. The city police will be engaged from noon on December 3 for the security of all these VIPs. 

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