Union minister Jairam Ramesh cuts a cake as Cardinal Telesphore P Toppo looks on at the Archbishop House in Ranchi on Tuesday. Picture by Prashant Mitra
Ranchi, Dec. 24: Politicians cutting across party lines today made a beeline to greet Cardinal Telesphore P. Toppo on Christmas eve at his official residence on Purulia Road in Ranchi in their bid to keep minority voters in good humour ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh was the first to arrive at Archbishop House at 9 in the morning
“I am here to wish the Cardinal on the occasion of Christmas,” Ramesh said, claiming that no development issue was discussed.
But when reminded that he had promised the Cardinal on September 13 to set up a 500-bed medical college and hospital in the capital, Ramesh quipped that Toppo’s dream would come true and left.
The Union minister came back again in the afternoon around 3pm, this time accompanied by Cabinet secretary J.B. Tubid and Ranchi deputy commissioner Vinay Kumar Choubey. A closed-door meeting was held with the Cardinal for around half an hour.
Emerging out of the meeting, Ramesh said: “For over a year now, I have been reading news reports about efforts being made by Cardinal Toppo to get a plot for a medical college and hospital. We have discussed the scouting of land for the project. Something will be worked out soon,” Ramesh told The Telegraph.
Later, Toppo said that the Roman Catholic Church was also trying to locate a suitable plot on its own.
Notably, the church since 2008 has been hunting for some 300 acres of land for its prestigious project, without any concrete results.
Former chief minister and JVM chief Babulal Marandi accompanied by party MLA Pradeep Yadav was the next to arrive at Archbishop House.
Marandi, whose party plans to contest all the 14 Lok Sabha seats from Jharkhand, also stressed that no political issues were discussed and that he had simply come to greet the Cardinal.
Jharkhand State Cricket Association president Amitabh Choudhary followed next.
A former IPS officer, Choudhary has taken voluntary retirement from the police service to gain entry into the political field.
Late in the evening, Subodh Kant Sahay, the Congress MP from Ranchi, also exchanged pleasantries with Cardinal Toppo.
On the other hand, thousands of faithful gathered for the afternoon and evening Christmas services at St Mary’s Cathedral, St Paul’s Church and Gossner Evangelical Lutheran (GEL) Church.