Warring Congressmen, who are independently vying for berths in the state cabinet or lobbying to get posts for their supporters, skipped a political wedding in Pravaranagar in Ahmednagar on Thursday. Ex-minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil's son Sujay, a neurologist surgeon, got married to Dhanashree, daughter of Kedarnath Kunjar Patil of Aurangabad.
Unlike other political weddings, which are extravagant ceremonies, the couple got married at a mass marriage ceremony, which had 61 other young couples tying the nuptials in the presence of ex-chief minister Ashok Chavan and his wife Amita. Chavan, who is known to be close to Vikhe-Patil, had proposed his ex-cabinet colleague's name as his replacement earlier this month.
The Vikhe-Patils had made arrangements to ensure that all special guests at the wedding could travel comfortably by air. However, the 13 helipads that were built to facilitate air traffic did not see many landings. Several top politicians and bureaucrats did not attend in view of the swearing-in on Friday.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said he wanted to attend the wedding, but was held up in New Delhi for discussing the cabinet expansion. He denied that the swearing-in was delayed by a day so that Congressmen could attend the wedding.
Transport commissioner Dilip Jadhav, charity commissioner SK Chourey and NCP minister Ganesh Naik were spotted at the ceremony.
The function also presented Ashok Chavan with an opportunity to make his first public speech after resigning from the post of CM. He spoke highly of the Vikhe-Patil family and the need to have mass marriage ceremonies, which save huge expenses. The state government encourages mass weddings by offering cash grants to couples. Off late, many politicians have used these ceremonies to connect with their voters.