A FUNCTION in Mantralaya on Sunday to remember former Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was attended by only one minister, Nawab Malik of NCP, one official and a handful of employees. No minister from the Congress attended the event.
The birth anniversary of Sardar Patel is observed as National Unity Day, and the death anniversary of Indira Gandhi, which falls on the same day, is observed as Sankalp Diwas in Maharashtra, said state publicity department officers.
At the Mantralaya event, Malik garlanded the photos. From the government, undersecretary Vitthal Bhaskar from the general administration department was present. Earlier, senior IAS officers attended the programme. Additional Chief Secretary Sujata Saunik of GAD did not offer any comment on the thin attendance.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Malik said, “I was asked by the government to attend the function and I went. There was one undersecretary from the government and we also administered oaths to everyone present.”
PWD Minister Ashok Chavan said he used to be present at the October 31 event when he was CM, and it was ensured that all senior IAS officers attended it. “I don’t know what has happened this time. I am in my constituency for the Deglur byelection,” he said.
Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat’s phone was answered by a relative, who said he had gone out. Aslam Sheikh, guardian minister of Island city in Mumbai, said, “I don’t know about this programme and am away in Jaipur.”
Congress ministers Nitin Raut, Vijay Wadettiwar and Varsha Gaikwad did not answer calls while state Congress chief Nana Patole’s phone was switched off.
Maharashtra Congress’s chief spokesperson Atul Londhe said, “I paid homage at a function in Nagpur and our chief paid homage in his district.” On Congress ministers’ absence at the Mantralaya programme, he said, “It may be because of Diwali.”
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray paid homage to Sardar Patel and Indira Gandhi by garlanding their photos at his residence in Matoshri in Bandra East.
A function was held on a larger scale in Raj Bhavan where Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari paid homage and organised a blood donation camp.