BENGALURU: Racing against time for the full launch of Metro Phase-1 on Saturday, Metro officials are finding themselves bogged down by demands for hundreds of invitations by politicians for the event. President Pranab Mukherjee will declare open the completed Phase-1 at Vidhana Soudha on Saturday. The possibility of rain on Saturday evening ruining the function, planned in an open space, is adding to their headache.
“The venue is the parking space between Vidhana Soudha and Vikasa Soudha, just behind the Mahatma Gandhi statue. A maximum of 6,000 people can be accommodated here,” said an official of the Internal Security Wing at the City Police Commissioner’s office. With security checks very strict, no one would be permitted to the venue without an invite except police and Metro staffers.
BMRCL has permitted 600 of its staffers to witness the event but they will have to carry their official Identity Card for verification. Parliament members, MLAs and top bureaucrats are among those invited. About 2,500 policemen will be deployed on bandobust duty at HAL airport, the hotel where the President and central and state ministers will be staying, the roads leading to Vidhana Soudha and the venue.
What is turning the entire plan on its head is the demands from many politicians. One prominent minister had suddenly demanded 2,500 invites for his supporters on Thursday, forcing BMRCL to dash and get more invitations printed.
“They were hand-delivered to the minister’s office by officials on Friday afternoon,” a reliable source said. “When we told the minister that we needed some time to put the invites into envelopes, we were told to just deliver it and men there would do the needful,” the source added. Many others too were giving headaches to BMRCL officials. According to a top Metro official, “Politicians are coolly asking for 500 or 1,000 invites. It is putting us under so much pressure.”
Another Metro source said, “What is stressing everyone after the sudden rain on Friday evening is that if it rains on Saturday, the function has to be shifted to the banquet hall of Vidhana Soudha. Only about 2,000 people can be accommodated there.”
Since the President will be inaugurating it, a protocol needs to be adhered to, said an official. “This is at least saving us from corporators and other small-time politicians,” he noted.
Officials had a tough time during the inauguration of Reach 1 of Metro from M G Road to Baiyappanahalli by then Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda on October 20, 2011. “Corporators would land up with a large number of supporters and order us to hand over invites in hundreds to them for their people. We kept on handing out invites as they refused to leave. We went in for printing many times.”
Many members of the public keep asking us for invites. “A huge number will not turn up. But it is a crazy thing. They just want to get an invite!” another official said.