5,000 policemen to guard Cong shivir

A view of Birla Auditorium, the main venue for the Congress’ chintan shivir, in Jaipur on Thursday. 	— PTI

A view of Birla Auditorium, the main venue for the Congress’ chintan shivir, in Jaipur on Thursday. — PTI

The pink city of Jaipur has been decked up for the Congress chintan shivir (brainstorming session), scheduled to begin Friday, while VVIPs have started arriving in Jaipur.
According to sources, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and party general secretary Rahul Gandhi will arrive here on Friday.
Security has been beefed up and over 5,000 police personnel deployed in view of the meeting.
The city wore a festive look to welcome the visiting delegates, who included several Union ministers, chief ministers, MPs, MLAs and senior leaders. Chief minister Ashok Gehlot has been personally supervising the preparations for the last two weeks. The route from the airport to the venue — the Birla Auditorium — has been decorated with Congress flags and hoardings portraying leaders like Mrs Gandi and the PM have been set up at different locations.
The main roads and walled city have been decorated in a manner reflecting the cultural and architectural beauty of Jaipur. The Opposition BJP, however, said the Congress government was misusing public money to please its leaders.
But chief minister Gehlot said that as per tradition and rules, the visiting ministers will be shown due protocol while the party will bear the expenses. “Since it is a party event, the Congress organisation is doing it all on its own,” he said, adding that “simplicity will be maintained and there will be no extravaganza”.
The Rajasthan government also decided to dedicate three newly-constructed important developmental projects for the public, including a tunnel, during the visit of the PM and Mrs Gandhi. According to sources, the tunnel will be inaugurated by Mrs Gandhi.
Chintan shivir participants will be accorded a traditional welcome and Rajasthani food will be served to the delegates. The Congress has booked most of the hotels to provide accommodation for the participants.
According to some Congressmen, Jaipur witnessed an Indian National Congress meeting in December 1948 which was attended by Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel. “At that time, the Congressmen stayed in makeshift huts and tents but Nehru and Patel were checked into the Rambagh Palace,” said a Sarvodyi activist.
Police sources said security has been tightened in the city and over two dozen IPS officers and 60 police officers from the state services roped in. Beside this, 100 administrative officials have been assigned protocol duties.
According to police sources, two dozen cameras have also been fitted in and around the venue of the meeting.
Birla Auditorium lies in the heart of Jaipur and its facade reminds visitors of the beauty of Shekhawati havelis.
The sprawling 9.8-acre complex includes an auditorium with a seating capacity of 1,350 people. The aesthetically designed B.M. Auditorium is a classic mixture of old and contemporary Indian architecture with frescos highlighting traditional Rajasthani art.
The PCC has set up a control room and the PCC chief, Dr Chandarbhan, will welcome delegates on the first day of the chintan shivir.

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