Politicians show off wealth in weddings

Many politicians in Maharashtra come from modest backgrounds, but within a few years of getting elected to parliament, the state legislature, or even to local bodies such as municipal corporations or zilla parishads (the district level bodies), they suddenly acquire wealth and can be seen splurging money on fancy gadgets, SUVs and palatial homes.


Nithin Belle

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Published: Sun 17 Feb 2013, 10:45 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 3:31 PM

One sure sign that a politician has finally arrived is the amount that he or she spends on a family wedding and the number of guests, including VVIPs, who attend the event. Of course, most of the ‘grand weddings’ are garish and tasteless events, where the only objective is to show to the rest of the world — including rivals — that the politician has finally made it big.

When ministers or party bosses organise weddings they hire the race course or even a stadium in Mumbai, book scores of rooms in 5-star hotels and ferry guests from across the country. Attracting 50,000 to 100,000 guests for lunch or dinner in honour of the newly-weds is quite common these days. Of course, often the tab is picked up by a friendly businessman or a consortium of contractors.

And there are enough newspapers and television channels in town willing to splash photographs of the guests, including celebrities and Page Three types along with the bride and the groom, or provide live coverage of the hoopla. So there are eager businessmen willing to sponsor such events. Last week saw one such jamboree unfold in Chiplun, about 350km south of here on the Bombay-Goa highway. Maharashtra’s junior minister for urban development, Bhaskar Jadhav, organised a big do to celebrate the weddings of both his son and daughter in his home town. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) legislator had got the state’s weekly cabinet meet on Wednesday postponed, as ministers wanted to attend the lavish event. The sleepy little town was transformed as the wedding venue — occupying more than half a million sq ft of space — was decked up for the grand event. Helicopters brought in the VVIPs and there were nearly a score of temporary helipads built for the choppers. More than 50,000 guests attended the minister’s children’s weddings, as caterers churned out hundreds of the choicest of delicacies.

But hours after the celebrations were over, and the well-fed ministers had returned to their homes in Mumbai, all hell broke loose. They were reminded about an inconvenient reality — that several regions of the state have been reeling under the impact of a devastating drought, worse than even the 1972 disaster.

State ministers have been pleading with the central government, seeking aid for the drought-hit districts, but when it comes to attending gala events and weddings, they were second to none in rushing to the venues. Of course, it is not just the NCP that has ministers and leaders who dabble in such tamashas’ politicians from all the other leading parties in Maharashtra, including the Congress, the BJP and the Shiv Sena indulge in this kind of conspicuous consumption, trying to impress ordinary citizens with their new-found wealth.

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