No bouquets, send money for Chennai relief: Parrikar

Panaji, Dec 10 (IANS) Facing flak from the opposition over his birthday celebrations, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday urged the public to not spend money on flowers and newspaper ads and instead contribute to the Chennai relief effort.

“On the occasion of my 60th birthday on December 13, I urge all of you to pray and help (the victims of the) devastating floods in Chennai. Let us stand with the people of Chennai in their difficult times,” a statement issued by Parrikar’s office said.

His message asked his well-wishers “not to spend on advertisements presents and/or flowers on my birthday and instead contribute towards Chief Minister of Goa Chennai Relief Fund Account”.

Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar has already made a public appeal seeking donations towards the Chennai relief and rehabilitation effort, to be sent in favour of the account number.

According to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Goa unit, over 50,000 guests are expected to attend the birthday of Parrikar, a former Goa chief minister.

The Congress on Tuesday had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him to order the BJP’s state unit to cancel the birthday party in light of the tragedy in Chennai, where excessive rains and resulting floods, resulted in the death of over 300 people.

Congress Secretary Girish Chodankar has accused the BJP-led coalition in Goa of allegedly using the state machinery to collect “Rs.10-15 crore”.

Chodankar alleged that the amount would be spent on the “birthday bash” scheduled to be held at the Gymkhana ground in Panaji on Sunday.

The guest list includes top ministers in the National Democratic Alliance government, all cabinet ministers in the BJP-coalition government in Goa and top industrialists from Goa.

Parrikar is currently on a two-day official visit to the US.

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