Andhra Pradesh Bureau

According to estimates, cost of decking up twin cities itself comes to Rs. 1.5 crores

Separate enclosures set up for CWC members, AICC delegates and media 23-course, all-vegetarian meal served at food court All star hotels have been taken over by partymenPearls showered on two young leaders -- Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot

HYDERABAD: The Hyderabad plenary will set a benchmark for future plenaries of the All-India Congress Committee, such was the extravagance for the mega event.

AICC delegates and mediapersons from States other than Andhra Pradesh vowed at the arrangements for the 82nd edition in terms of accommodation, food, transport and the manner in which the entire twin cities was festooned with thousands of tricolour flags and banners.

Many of them were of the opinion that Congress plenaries earlier could be called 'austere' in comparison. Incidentally, AICC president Sonia Gandhi, had directed the Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee to avoid ostentation at all costs. According to one estimates, the cost of mere decking up of the twin cities alone was close to Rs. 1.5 crores, which is considered a fraction of the total cost.

12 food courts

As many as 12 food courts circled the imposing Gachibowli stadium. Separate enclosures have been have been set up for CWC members, AICC, PCC delegates and the media.

By the end of the plenary on January 23, at least 55,000 multi-course meal would have been served in the afternoons and evenings. While 250 big-wigs of the Congress will be served food from a three star hotel, the food for others is being handled by two leading caterers in the City. At the only food court opened on Saturday, a 23-course, all-vegetarian meal was served.

Rooms in all star hotels, not to speak of the lesser ones, have been taken over by the Congress. A visitor cannot enter some of these swank hotels without stepping on the toes of either a Central Minister, a Chief Minister or a CWC member.

By one estimate, there are 3,000 hotel rooms in the three, four and five star hotels in the State capital.

Royal treatment

While Congress leaders eagerly awaited the arrival of Rahul Gandhi, they did not waste their time either. Two other scions of political families -- Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot -- were given the royal treatment when their fans showered pearls on them.

As the city teemed with who's who of the Congress, security was at its tightest ever. The 16,000-odd police personnel, including 12 companies of CRPF and CISF, outnumbered the 15,000 delegates.

People travelling on the roads leading to the plenary venue faced difficulties due to blockades for checking of vehicles and movement of VIP vehicles.

Hundreds of cars of all makes were placed at Congress leaders' disposal while convenors and members of several committees like protocol, food, transport were equipped with walkie-talkie sets. The organisers had a tough time hosting some 200 Congressmen from Amethi represented by Rahul Gandhi and Rae Bareli by Ms. Sonia Gandhi, who arrived here without notice.

The APCC expressed its inability to arrange for entry passes but provided accommodation for them.

Rahul arrives

Amid speculation about his future role in the party, Mr. Rahul Gandhi arrived in the city in the evening, well after the conclusion of the Congress Working Committee meeting.

Tight security marked his arrival and the media contingent waiting for him was not allowed to meet the Congress leader.

All but a handful of the top 123 Congress leaders who will be seated on the dais at the Subjects Committee meeting on Sunday, also reached the city.

Among those who did not arrive until late evening were N.D. Tiwari, the Uttaranchal Chief Minister.

More In: Today's Paper