ITC Grand Bharat hotel becomes a playground for political parleys
Over the weekend, around 11-12 Congress MLAs from Rajasthan were housed in the ITC Grand Bharat hotel as their leader Rajasthan deputy CM Sachin Pilot, worked out his political future.Updated: Jul 14, 2020 04:43 IST
Tucked away in the foothills of Aravallis, the ITC Grand Bharat is a relatively new hotel that came up next to the company’s iconic golf course designed by American golfing great Jack Nicklaus.
It is in Haryana, a few hours from Rajasthan’s capital by road, less than an hour from Delhi, and just aboutd 40 minutes from the international airport in the capital. It is quiet, private, secluded, and the approach is through one road off NH8 (the Delhi-Jaipur expressway) -- all features that have endeared it in recent years to politicians and political parties wanting to safeguard their legislators from others who want to poach them -- or, housing and protecting legislators they have poached from other parties.
The area is sparsely populated, and the hotel is surrounded mostly by wasteland or farmland. The local population in this area of Mewat, in villages such as Bar Gujjar, Hassanpur, Naurangpur and Mohammadpur (all in the Tauru block) like to keep to themselves.
The hotel is also a popular weekend getaway and corporate off-site destination , but it has largely made the news for political reasons.
Haryana is governed by a Bharatiya Janata Party government and Jitender Bhardwaj, a spokesperson for Congress in Haryana and also a local politician from adjoining Sohna claimed that “MLAs from Karnataka, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh” have been housed at the hotel and in other hotels in Gurugram. “Local police and administrative machinery is actively used to protect the rebel MLAs from other parties.” In both Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, the BJP came to power after some Congress legislators resigned from their party , bringing down the coalition government in Karnataka in July 2019 and the Congress one in Madhya Pradesh in March.
Over the weekend, around 11-12 Congress MLAs from Rajasthan were housed in the hotel as their leader Rajasthan deputy CM Sachin Pilot, worked out his political future.
A large posse of Haryana police was stationed outside the hotel to prevent the media or anyone else from entering the hotel , although the BJP has said it has nothing to do with the goings-on in Rajasthan. A large group of bouncers was also deployed outside the hotel to discourage reporters from getting close to the property.
“This resort is difficult to access for normal people. Outsiders can be spotted immediately as this area has a very thin population,” said Manish Khatana, a youth Congress leader, who forcefully entered the hotel when Congress MLAs from Madhya Pradesh were lodged in the hotel between March 7 to 11.
“There was a three-tier security at the main gate so we crossed fields, jumped over the gate and entered the hotel,” he recollects.
Responding to allegations leveled by Congress leaders regarding use of government machinery to achieve political ends, Raman Malik, BJP spokesperson, Haryana, said that the party was not into resort politics and if the Congress MLAs had come to the city, it was on their own accord.
HT tried to reach out and get a response from ITC Hotels through email to senior executive, company website and social media but could not elicit a reply on the matter.