Gujral resting in Goa while UF is struggling in Delhi

SANDESH PRABHUDESAI, PANAJI | 27 December 1997 10:01 IST

"Wish Goa was the capital of India", says Inder Kumar Gujral, the prime minister of India, relaxing on a hammock in his panties and with a glass of Goan feni in his hand.

It’s a cartoon drawn by a local cartoonist Alexyz in a Goan English daily today. The occasion is PM’s three-day visit to Goa, strictly a private holiday affair.

While political parties belonging to the United Front are working hard to retain its rule at the centre after the Parliamentary polls, Gujral seems to have sneaked away from all hullabaloo since yesterday morning.

Except paying a courtesy visit to the International Centre here, Gujral has preferred to rest at the Cabo Raj Bhavan. He also enjoyed a cruise ride in Mandovi river today evening and was supposed to attend wedding engagement of Vishwajit, son of chief minister Pratapsing Rane

However, Rane learnt to have turned down the request made by union minister Ramakant Khalap to accord a civic reception to the PM, fearing that it could help the local MP to boost his political image on the eve of Parliamentary elections.

Gujral has come down to the tourist state for the first time after becoming the prime minister. In fact, he is the first PM in the country in whose honour no civic reception has been organised by the state government.

In retaliation, Khalap has managed to organise a reception by the local freedom fighters tomorrow morning, the sole public function Gujral is attending. He arrived here by naval aircraft yesterday morning and is expected to leave for Delhi tomorrow.

Moreover, Goa PCC president Shantaram Naik has alleged that Khalap has invited the PM to Goa with a sole intention of keeping elections in mind. "They are also likely to call some central government officials at the Raj Bhavan to expedite some works, in violation of election code of conduct", he adds.

"Only a fool like Shantaram can make such statements. Mr Gujral’s three-day programme itself signifies that the allegations are false", claims Dharma Chodankar, Khalap’s close aide and general secretary of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party.

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