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   Mr. Murli Deora, who is in charge of accommodating... (October 23, 1985)

Mr. Murli Deora, who is in charge of accommodating the thousands of delegates who will be coming to Bombay to attend the Congress centenary celebrations, was showing mw his plans for the township that is to be put up at Oval Maidan.

He took out a blueprint, spread it on the table, picked up a ruler, made a circle with it, encompassing the entire blueprint, then said. "This entire maidan, plus the university buildings, high court and Eros Cinema, will be known as Rajivji Nagar."

"Bombay will be honoured," I said "Yes," said.

Mr. Deora. "You see all these spots along the sides of the maidan, they are palm trees. The first thing we will be doing is cutting them down. Palm trees do not give the image of a 21st century computer oriented prime ministerji."

"Have you consulted the Oval Bachao Committee?" I asked.

"No but if they wish, we have no objection to their replanting the trees once the centenary is over. As I have mentioned earlier in the press, we will help them to do so."

"That's nice," I said.

Mr. Deora continued. "We don't want to have anything permanent on the maidan and ruin it, you understand. So there will be no ugly sanitary block. Instead we will be digging trenches all over the maidan, for the delegates to relieve themselves in."

"Sensible," I said.

"We are also requesting residents in the building opposite the Oval, social minded ladies like Mrs. Gool Bhujwalla and Mrs. Piloo Khambata to permit the delegates to use their bathrooms early in the morning. I am sure they will oblige." Mr. Deora said.

"Oh, definite," I said "What kind of houses are you planning to put up for the delegates to stay."

"That we have already worked out with the municipal commissioner," Mr. Deora said. "You know the municipality is to demolish all these huts on the pavements under Mr. Bal Thackeray's orders. We have asked the commissioner to lend us the material with which the demolished huts were constructed, so that we can use that to construct the accommodation for the delegates."

"Even the pavement dwellers will be happy to be of service, however indirect it may be," is said.

"Certainly," Mr. Deora said" the Congress belongs to everybody. I don't have to tell you that what we are doing at the Oval, we are also doing at the Azad Maidan and the racecourse.

"What about the VVIP delegates, such as ministers, I believe you are putting them up at five star hotel," I said.

"There seems to be some problem about that," Mr. Deora said. "I tried to book them at the Taj nut the Taj keeps saying that the President is a much better hotel and I should book them there."

 
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