‘Yo kaunn so melo hai’ was the most frequently asked question in Ujjaini by villagers on Tuesday. Awestruck at the exquisite arrangements made for Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s cabinet meeting, the villagers wanted to know that kind of ‘fair’ it was in their local lingo.
The villagers knew Chouhan was arriving and his ministers will accompany. But they could never imagine that it will be such a big affair.
Village leaders, young and old alike, tried to catch a glimpse of what was happening inside the white decorated tents erected at the Narmada Kshipra river liking site, but were cordoned off.
Almost all top-ranking BJP leaders in the Indore division were present at Ujjaini to be witness to Chouhan’s first cabinet meeting outside Bhopal. Over 200 senior bureaucrats, equal number of armed policemen and a hoard of observers including journalists, had also camped near the meeting dome.
“We have only heard of such arrangements and never seen before,” said villager Lokesh Patel who moved around the venue to get glimpse of the arrangements. High profile dignitaries, who were often seen on television and read in the newspapers, were in Ujjaini.
Patel had many questions. What was happening inside? What kind of food was being served? Why are men wearing turbans and serving (he claimed turbans were usually worn during marriage celebrations at his village)?
Chouhan arrived on a helicopter to Ujjaini and was greeted by a large crowd as he approached the river-linking site by around 2.30pm. He greeted people by waving his hand in the air in his customary style as he moved on offer prayers to Narmada river.
Soon after admiring his project, the chief minister moved to the VIP food plaza to have a lunch with his ministers and BJP leaders reaching the site from different corners of the division.
The food was lip smacking; an array of delicacies from Malwa, combined with traditional Bengali deserts left the visitors wanting for more.
Urban administration minister Kailash Vijayvargiya behaved like a host, taking stock arrangements and issuing instructions to set things in order. He even tasted the food before it was served to the dignitaries.
He had wreached Ujjaini nearly two hours before the scheduled arrival of Chouhan.
The cabinet meeting started at around 3.15pm and ended at 4.45pm. Chouhan probably wanted to record the event well. He took time to move around the Sangam Sthal giving ample opportunity to the photographers to click his pictures.
He left the venue with people shouting at him calling him ‘Bhagirath’ - for bringing Narmada to Ujjaini and linking it with Kshipra.