A party without gate-crashers? Quite rare, more so in this part of the Hindi belt. But governor Devanand Konwar's state banquet, hosted in honour of President Pranab Mukherjee at the Durbar hall of the Raj Bhawan in Patna on Wednesday evening, was no exception.
Deputy chairman of
the Bihar legislative council Saleem Perwez of the JD-U and deputy speaker of the Bihar legislative assembly Amarendra Pratap Singh (BJP), both 'not on the list' of invitees to the state dinner at the Durbar hall, barged their way in to dine with the President last night.
The two political heavyweights ostensibly created quite a fuss as they entered into a verbal duel with Raj Bhawan officials, who valiantly tried to stave them off.
With the leaders unrelenting and the President about to arrive in the hall, the two were hurriedly accommodated on chairs of absentee guests - cooperatives minister Giriraj Singh and leader of opposition in legislative council, Ghulam Ghaus.
Leader of opposition in the legislative assembly, Abdul Bari Siddiqui also stayed away from the state dinner.
On the list of 53 for the state dinner were only cabinet ministers, legislative assembly speaker, legislative council chairperson and leaders of opposition of both the houses.
Perwez and Singh, who were not in the select list, however, were among the 600-odd invitees for dinner at Rajendra Mandap, a 140x80 feet auditorium, which the President earlier inaugurated on the Raj Bhawan premises.
Both Perwez and Singh, who admitted their names were not mentioned on the tables reserved for guests at the state dinner, were initially quite reluctant to talk about the sordid episode, saying it was a 'trivial one'.
Prodded a little bit, Perwez told HT: "Both Amarendra ji and I hold constitutional posts and our names ought to have been there on the list of guests for state dinner. It is a mistake on part of the Raj Bhawan…"
A reticent Singh said, "There has been a systemic degradation of the parliamentary system and this episode will not help our cause… It's a mistake… but I do not believe in washing dirty linen in public."
Principal secretary to the governor, Afzal Amanullah, told HT: "Considering the space constraint, Raj Bhawan had decided to invite only cabinet ministers and leaders of opposition of both the houses for the state dinner hosted by the governor in honour of the President. Both Perwez and Singh were not on the list of invitees for state dinner at the Durbar hall. They only had invites for dinner at Rajendra Mandap."
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