The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CM scare spoils babu appetite

Salboni (West Midnapore), Jan. 24: The district administration has its fingers crossed on the possibility of chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee expressing desire to sit with the students of Bhadutala Hirendranagar Primary School for lunch.

Bhattacharjee will be here tomorrow to see for himself the progress of the mid-day meal scheme that was introduced in 1,000 schools earlier this month. Many of the schools that came under the scheme in the first phase are in Belpahari, Salboni and Garbeta.

“The menu comprises khichuri and cooked cabbage and is prepared by a women’s self-help group,” said block development officer S.M. Konar. But, for the chief minister, the women wanted to cook an additional course, he added. “They apprehend that the usual menu would be too frugal if the chief minister wants to join the children for lunch.”

The menu might remain the same, but the administration is leaving nothing to chance about the quality of ingredients. The rice, pulses and vegetables are being chosen with care, something that the students miss out on.

A senior official in charge of the arrangements sounded tense. “May be the chief minister will not want to taste the food, but he is most certain to ask the children how it usually is. And you know how children are, you cannot tell what their response would be,” he said.

For Gouri Mondol and Madhuri Das, both members of the group, Bhattacharjee’s visit is a high point. The group is taking every possible care to ensure the kitchen is spic and span.

“I have told the women that they should take a bath and wear clean clothes while serving food to the children,” said Gouri.

There are around 250 primary schools in the belt and 31,000 students are provided lunch under the scheme.

“The chief minister will be present at the introduction of cooked meal at the 251st school in the district,” said M.V. Rao, the district magistrate.

The chief minister will attend two other programmes in the district tomorrow. He is scheduled to attend a convention of Central government employees and inaugurate an auditorium built by the Garbeta panchayat samity that can seat 600 people.

With all the programmes being held in areas that have a strong presence of Naxalite factions like the People’s War and the Maoist Communist Centre, the police are putting in place a strong security net along the chief minister’s route and the venues.

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