Chief Minister Anandi Patel’s maiden visit to Vadodara, after taking oath of office, turned chaotic on Saturday, with a large number of “well-wishers” crowding the stage to felicitate her with fruit baskets, bouquets and gifts.
Patel, who was in the city to inaugurate development projects of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation worth Rs 280 crores and the foundation ceremony of upcoming projects worth Rs 488 crores, politely accepted the gifts, including a 50-kg fruit basket. Patel requested the people to donate these goodies to anganwadis in their localities instead.
The state’s budget for 2014-15 had put the focus on Vadodara with the intention of turning it into a knowledge hub. Patel sought to assure the people of the city that PM Narendra Modi has not forgotten Vadodara that gave him the highest lead ever in a Lok Sabha election.
On Saturday, as Patel arrived to inaugurate the Indoor Sports Complex in Sama along with other development projects, a stream of prominent party supporters from the city queued up with countless baskets of fruits, bouquets and mementos. Soon they became so impatient and over-enthusiastic that at one point, the stage was crowded with people.
After about 15 minutes, the felicitation had to be paused to allow Patel to continue with the primary event — the inauguration of projects worth Rs 280 crore, including the Indoor Sports Complex worth Rs 65 crore, Akota Dandiya Bazar flyover worth Rs 138 crore and 45 new anganwadis among other projects. Patel also laid the “digital foundation” of various housing projects under the Rajiv Aawas Yojana as well as the Mukhyamantri Gruh Yojana, the widening of three city over-bridges, lakes and drainage networks worth Rs 488 crore. She also conducted a housing draw at the Sayajirao Nagar Gruh in Akota, and later met officials of AMC, district administration, police as well as BJP leaders at Circuit House in Vadodara.
During her 20-minute address, Patel, who was visibly displeased at receiving a large number of flowers and fruit baskets, including one that held 50 kg of fruits, requested her “well-wishers” to make regular donations to anganwadis in their locality instead of bringing along gifts at political events.
“Every time I attend an event, people shower me with flowers and fruits. I know that even a simple bouquet costs Rs 1,000. Instead of spending the money on buying me flowers, it would be good if you could donate this money to your nearest anganwadi. Even if each well-to-do person contributes a packet of biscuit to the anganwadis it would be more valuable,” Patel said.
Patel also directed VMC officials and members of the party’s women wing to ensure that the food items were distributed among the 300 anganwadis in the city. “So many fruit baskets have been gifted to me here. I want the officials and the party’s women wing to carry these fruits to the anganwadis and sit there till they see the children scrape off every bit of them,” she said.
Saurabh Patel for ‘sports excellence’
Finance Minister Saurabh Patel spoke of developing Vadodara as the city of “sports excellence”, with infrastructure and promotions of international standard. He announced that the state government had roped in former hockey captain Padamshree Dhanraj Pillai to render his coaching expertise to hockey players in the city. Pillai, along with cricketer Munaf Patel, shared the stage with political dignitaries at Saturday’s inauguration.
Later, at the end of the event and felicitations, BJP leaders were seen introducing the two players to the CM. Officials said the state government had requested Pillai to spend more time in Vadodara, coaching young hockey players regularly at the Outdoor Sports Complex in Manjalpur, inaugurated by the Modi during his tenure as the CM in February this year. ENS