Mysuru: Finding a hotel room for the Prime Minister of the country when he is visiting a city to stay is one of the easiest tasks for any government body. However, surprisingly, what we find here instead is the Special Protection Group (SPG) to the Prime Minister, the District Administration and the Police are frantically looking for a suitable place as the iconic Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel is fully booked on the days Prime Minister Modi is visiting Mysuru.
Modi’s special plane is scheduled to land at the Mysore Airport on the night of Feb. 18 (Sunday) and he has a packed day on Feb. 19 where he is scheduled to visit Shravanabelagola to participate in the 88th Mahamastakabhisheka of Lord Bahubali, flag off the Humsafar Express Train and Electric Train Services between Mysuru and Bengaluru, address a public rally at Maharaja’s College Grounds and leave for New Delhi the same day. On the morning of Feb. 19, Modi was scheduled to participate in a video conference from a specially arranged facility at the Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel.
However, according to sources in the Hotel Lalitha Mahal Palace, the hotel is fully booked on Feb.17, 18 and 19 by a high-profile former diplomat who is celebrating the wedding of his son. Even a few German guests are expected to attend the wedding.
“When SPG, district officers and the Police came for a recce, they were shocked to find that the hotel was fully booked, except for the ‘Vicerine Suite’. This one suite cannot be handed over due to security reasons. The Viceroy Suite where Modi stayed when he came to inaugurate the Indian Science Congress on Jan. 2, 2016 is also booked. We had to tell them that since the hotel was booked for the wedding, months in advance, it cannot be cancelled,” said the source.
However, the sources in the District Administration and the Police said that Modi might stay in Hotel Radisson Blu on MG Road or the plush guest accommodation at Infosys Campus, Hebbal. As the Lalitha Mahal Hotel authorities conveyed that the hotel was booked months in advance, yesterday, the SPG team visited the Radisson Blu Hotel and the Infosys campus to finalise the PM’s stay.
Though senior officers are tight-lipped, sources told Star of Mysore that the SPG had rounded off Infosys campus and Hotel Radisson Blu for PM Modi’s one-day stay. “The SPG team again visited Radisson Blu and the Infosys campus this morning and has conveyed their inputs to their headquarters in NewDelhi. The final decision on Modi’s accommodation and food will be taken by the high-level officers in New Delhi tomorrow or the day after,” sources said.
Modi’s Israel stay
When Modi visited Israel in July 2017, he stayed at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, one of the most secure locations in the world that can resist bomb attacks and chemical attacks and can even withstand a building collapse. All the 110 rooms of the hotel were vacated prior to Modi’s visit, so that adequate security measures could be adopted.
When former GM of Lalitha Mahal found himself in a similar situation
Narrating a similar experience when a government-owned hotel was full at a time when a VVIP wanted a room to stay, Star of Mysore columnist and Sr. Vice-President of Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) (Retd.) N.A.K. Ballal said that it is important for hotel top management to take care of politicians since many of them have long memories.
In his column published in SOM in 2013, Ballal, who was also the General Manager (GM) of Hotel Lalitha Mahal Palace, says, “Dr. M.G. Ramachandran, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, suddenly decided to come to Madurai for some election work. MGR was a strong believer of numerology and thus always wanted a particular room. That particular day the hotel was full. But the local administration was not ready to listen to any reason. They insisted that I should give that particular room at any cost, otherwise the district collector threatened to impose Section 144 around the hotel, ensuring that no other guests would be allowed to enter the hotel. Being a government Hotel, one cannot fight the power of the State, and so I agreed, and shifted our booking to some other hotel at a considerable loss.”