Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar’s advice to refrain from extravagance in view of the drought, it seems, is being ignored by his own party members.
Even after Pawar’s rebuke to his minister Bhaskar Jadhav for holding a grand wedding celebration for his son and daughter on Wednesday, the Pimpri-Chinchwad legislator and a close aide of deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, Laxman Jagtap, held a dinner for around 75,000 people on his birthday on Friday, claimed his supporters.
A separate pandal was erected for the cooks. Nearly 500 quintals of jalebis and an equal amount of laddoos were prepared for the dinner, which according to Jagtap, was thrown by his supporters at a ground in Pimpri.
Hindustan Times, however, could not independently verify how many people actually attended the event.
“I have celebrated my birthday in a simple way after Pawar’s advice against lavish celebration. The dinner was offered by my supporters,” said Jagtap, who was elected as an independent MLA from Chinchwad, after he rebelled against local NCP candidate in 2009.
After the election, Jagtap, who was an MLC from the NCP quota, started taking up party activities and is now being seen as an Ajit Pawar loyalist.
Local newspapers and television channels too were full of advertisements wishing Jagtap on his birthday.
Speaking in Mumbai, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar said, “All the leaders concerned should take note of Sharad Pawar’s advice.”
Upset with the expensive wedding celebration, Sharad Pawar, who is also the Union agriculture minister, had told a TV channel, “I couldn’t sleep after watching the lavish celebration on TV. Not just because of drought, otherwise, too, public figures should refrain from ostentatious weddings or events.’’
NCP chief had also said that while 2 lakh people were invited for his daughter’s wedding, no arrangement for lunch or dinner was made. We had given just pedhas to the guests, he said.
Pimpri-Chinchwad, an industrial town, is not new to extravagance. Few days ago, Datta Phuge, husband of NCP corporator Seema, got a custom-made 3.25kg gold shirt for
himself. Phuge, a chit-fund businessman, who already wore jewellery weighing 5kg, termed the move as an attempt to garner “name and fame”.