A minor fire broke out at the rooftop of the majestic Jubilee Hall, minutes after the UPA Presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee left the place after addressing a meeting of Congress MPs and MLAs on Sunday. None sustained injuries.
It was around 12 noon that the Congress leader departed from Jubilee Hall in the pristine environs of the Public Gardens, alongwith AICC general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad, Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy and PCC chief Botcha Satyanarayana.
The fire broke out after the tar sheets atop the hall caught fire due to what was later described as a ‘short circuit’. In no time, smoke billowed, shrouding the entire façade of the building in black and soot. Immediately, electrical engineers cut off the power supply to the complex that houses the Legislative Council and is also used for hosting receptions to visiting dignitaries.
Fire-fighters swung into action and engines and extinguishers were pressed into service. Legislative Affairs Minister D. Sridhar Babu, some MLAs and senior police officials stayed around, trying to monitor the operations.
A few minutes before, Mr. Mukherjee, in his address to the Congress legislators appealed for their support. He said, ‘Earlier, I used to come to Andhra Pradesh on official visits and party purposes. This time, I am here to seek your votes for my candidature,” he said.
Mr. Azad and Mr. Kiran Kumar Reddy recalled the services of the former Union Finance Minister to the party as well as the Government in various positions.
Later addressing a press conference, Mr. Mukherjee appealed to the parties that were yet to take a decision on their support in the Presidential elections. He thanked the UPA partners and non-UPA partners like JD (U) and Shiv Sena for extending support to him.
In the morning, he arrived by special aircraft at the Begumpet Airport from Chennai. Alert police thwarted attempts by activists of the TRS to disrupt the convoy’s movement towards the Jubilee Hall.