'Gift' for Joshi's daughter's wedding triggers row

Civic agency's 'gift' for Pralhad Joshi's daughter's wedding triggers row

Joshi said he had not instructed any official to relay the roads or improve them

A newly laid road between Akshay Park Colony circle and Hotel Denissons in Hubballi. Residents charge that the road was relaid to facilitate VVIP movement for Union Minister Pralhad Joshi's daughter wedding on September 2. Credit: DH photo

Re-asphalting of a road connecting Hubballi airport to Keshav Kunj, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) headquarters via Hotel Denissons in Hubballi has snowballed into a controversy with residents of Akshay Colony and Congress leaders charging that the road was being relaid for the VVIPs attending Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi daughter’s wedding.

The Congress leaders have charged that the work has been taken up even as the model code of conduct in place for the Hubballi-Dharwad Mahanagara Palike (HDMP) elections, voting for which is scheduled for September 3.

However, Hubballi-Dharwad Smart City Limited (HDSCL) officials, who are executing the work, and Joshi said, it’s a mere co-incidence that the work was taken up now, and had nothing to do with the September 2 wedding at Hotel Denissons. The officials claimed that there is no violation of poll code as work order for this was issued in 2019, and taken up now following a rain breather.

Highly placed sources in the police department informed DH that at-least six Union ministers, including Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, BJP national president J P Nadda, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, and other dignitaries are expected to attend the wedding.

‘Concern for only VIPs’

Vidyanagar Block Congress president Rajath Ullagaddimath said, the residents of Akshay Park Colony had been demanding for the fixing of this pothole-riddled main road for almost two years now.

However, the officials who did not responded to the residents demand all these days started fixing the road under pressure from Union Minister, he charged. “Nearly 70% of the roads in Hubballi are in bad shape. The officials have no time to fix them. But, have money and time to relay only this road,” he noted.

He also charged that the BJP leaders are violating the poll code by implementing a development work while HDMP polls are underway.

Old work

HDSCL Managing Director C W Shakeel Ahmed said, they had taken up the relaying of Akshay-Park Colony to Keshav Kunj stretch under the Package-6 of Smart City project. The tender for the project was called in 2019, and various works related to the project were being implemented earlier also.

“It is just a co-incidence that we took up this road work last week and the wedding venue also happens to be on this stretch,” he said, and added that there is also no poll code violation as its an on-going project.

However, residents refute Shakeel’s claims, and say that unlike other road package works where the HDSCL has also implemented drainage, paver, shifting public utility underground, and others; here they have just asphalted the road. The officials are also spraying water on the Airport Road to ensure that dust does not rise during the VVIPs movement.

‘Haven’t asked for’

Meanwhile, Joshi said, he had not instructed any official to relay the roads or improve them. “I am not even aware under which project they have taken up the work. Unnecessary controversy is being created by linking things to my daughter’s wedding,” he said.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox