A plateau on the outskirts of Sanchi has streams of vehicles carrying VIPs including ministers and bureaucrats, pandals being erected, ground being dug, a carpet of pebbles being laid to avoid mud in rainy season, electric wires and poles being fitted. This is how the state government is preparing for the foundation laying ceremony of the first Buddhist university in the state on September 21.
What makes the foundation laying ceremony most interesting is the presence of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Bhutan Premier Jigme Thinley on the occasion. This is the first time when heads of two countries are taking part in a state government programme in Madhya Pradesh.
Not far away from the proposed varsity site is the public meeting venue. All the dignitaries would drive to the venue after the foundation laying ceremony. Bhopal-Sanchi road is being repaired, men and machines are at work, every pothole on the road is being covered and signage is being put in place to ensure the foreign delegates and dignitaries don't have a bumpy ride and there are no hassles on their arrival here.
As just three days are left for the event and a lot of work remains to be done, work is going on round the clock to make all the arrangements. Though the state government has decided not to listen to MDMK chief Vaiko's appeal not to invite Rajapaksa, public relations and cultural minister Laxmikant Sharma hopes that Vaiko will listen to chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's appeal not to lodge protest here.
Sharma was at Sanchi on Wednesday to assess the pace of work and status at both the venues and he was accompanied by the district administration officials and commissioner public relations Rakesh Shrivastava. "I think Vaiko would listen to chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's appeal which he made through a letter to him. He must understand that it is an educational programme, not political," said Sharma. The minister said it was wrong to read any political motive behind the establishment of the university. The fact remained, he said, the university was Chouhan's idea during his visit to Sanchi in the past.
"Sanchi, which is already a prominent Buddhist centre, would develop as a renowned international Buddhist centre after establishment of the university. Madhya Pradesh would come up on the world map. The most significant fact is that this centre would see a conglomeration of studies of different streams of knowledge of the world under a single roof," he added. When asked what the government would do if Vaiko refused to listen to Chouhan's plea, he said he hoped that Vaiko would listen to the appeal.