The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Congress pampers Priyanka dosa tooth
- Southern food chain to get canteen contract

New Delhi, June 29: Congresswallahs will soon be able to bite into their first family’s favourites dosas and vadas, at a nominal price.

The Sagar group, which runs 22 Udupi restaurants, including one at the state-owned five-star Ashoka Hotel, is set to get the contract for the popular canteen at the party headquarters on 24 Akbar Road.

For years now, dosas, vadas and upma from Sagar restaurants have been a favourite with the Nehru-Gandhis. 10 Janpath often places orders with Sagar for meetings, including those of the party working committee.

Besides Sonia Gandhi, daughter Priyanka also orders Sagar snacks “once in a while”.

This is possibly one of the reasons the AICC establishment zeroed in on the Sagar group when they were looking for a new contractor.

AICC treasurer Motilal Vora, in charge of headquarters administration, has already terminated the contract of Ravi Sareen, who has been running the canteen for over 15 years.

The search for a new contractor who would serve “neat and hygienic” food has been on for some time after Vora’s repeated warnings to the present contractor went “unheeded”.

Vora visited some of the Sagar restaurants in the capital to satisfy himself this would be the right choice. But the reputation of the chain with 10 Janpath may have been the clincher, said sources.

A formal letter is yet to go, but Vora is understood to have already told Sagar group chief Jayaram Banana the contract is his.

“It would be a great honour to run the canteen at the AICC ' much more than the satisfaction I would have when the chain enters Germany and Singapore in a few weeks’ time,” said Jayaram, who started his career as a cleaner in a Mumbai Udupi hotel four decades ago.

After moving to Delhi 25 years ago, Jayaram opened his first Sagar restaurant here in upscale Defence Colony.

The Congress’s aam aadmi will get the Sagar fare at a price that suits his pocket. Sagar restaurants in the capital usually charge Rs 30-35 for dosa and vada and Rs 20-25 for idli and upma. But since they will pay only a nominal amount for the canteen space, the rates will be lower for the Congress.

As work on giving a face-lift to the canteen has got under way, the aroma of filter coffee is all over. General secretary Janardhan Dwividi today promised visitors he would serve coffee the next time they come calling.

But it’s goodbye to the good old bread-omelette.

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