Debating India

GenNext BJP seeks renaissance five star-style

Nilanjana Bhaduri JHA

Wednesday 23 June 2004, by JHA*Nilanjana Bhaduri

NEW DELHI: Did they say thought is free? Think again. Or rather, don’t. At five-star rates that luxury is unaffordable. But when the ruling-party-till-lately goes into think mode, money does not seem to matter. It’s the thought that counts.

For the records, BJP leader Pramod Mahajan has said a cheque for Rs 13 lakh has been handed over to hold a three-day chintan baithak - to reflect on the debacle that was election 2004 - at a swank Mumbai hotel.

The RSS and austerity can go climb a tree. Huge as that sum may seem to the average Joe planning a budgeted holiday, it’s a trifle for an event that involves 180 people. May be the BJP got a whopping discount.

Inspired, we decided to find out how much such a chintan baithak would cost some 180 of us at the very same hotel. Thinking cheapest, we decided on the normal room at Hotel Renaissance, which rents at $149 a day.

At current rates that’s Rs 6804 per room, per day. Like the BJP members, most of us would be doubling, so 100 rooms would be booked - Rs 6,80,400 a night.

Some of us, more important than the others, would certainly stay at the Presidential suites - like Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani - at $549, or Rs 25073, a day. And at least one in a “largish room, say the executive room at $189 or Rs 8631.

A bit like party president Venkaiah Naidu. Total lodging bill: Rs 7,39,177. That’s Rs 22,17,531 for three days.

Sure there’s breakfast and airport transfers thrown in, but lunch and dinner need to be partaken too. At such a facility, one meal for 180 should cost upwards of Rs 90,000.

For, say, four such meals, Rs 3,60,000. Fooding and lodging Bill: Rs 25,77,531. Double what the BJP says it has paid.

Chintan baithaks of the BJP variety have in the past been held at far less plush venues. And BJP veterans are already cribbing about the "five star culture" that many of them feel is responsible for the party’s image taking a beating.

Perhaps they fail to appreciate the finer points of the choice of venue. As the BJP attempts to pick up the threads again, it is looking for a renaissance.

Perhaps, it was not about luxurious brainstorming at all. Perhaps all that the party is seeking is some inspiration from the aptly named hotel. For that kind of a noble cause, what’s a few lakhs here or there? We’ll go ahead with our baithak too.


(With Ekta Sharma in Mumbai)

Pic : The Hotel Renaissance in Mumbai.

in The Times of India, Wednesday, June 23, 2004.

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