Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday surprised some MPs having lunch in Parliament’s canteen as he suddenly landed there to join them, perhaps becoming the first person holding the post to do so, and paid Rs 29 for a vegetarian ‘thali’ (meal).
Around 18 MPs were having lunch, sitting in small groups on different tables, in Room Number 70, when Modi landed there at 1 PM. The room on the first floor of Parliament building is for MPs.
The Prime Minister greeted the MPs. Some of them came to introduce themselves to him, according to the canteen staff.
Then he sat on a table, already occupied by three MPs and ordered food.
“Anything special, sir,” canteen in-charge B L Purohit asked the Prime Minister.
“No, I want normal vegetarian thali,” Modi replied. He also ordered fruit salad.
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Immediately, a thali, consisting of palak sabzi, rajma, dal and salad, was served along with rice and a tandoori roti.
“The total bill for the food was Rs 29. He gave a note of Rs 100 and I returned Rs 71,” said waiter Rama Shankar who attended on the Prime Minister.
He did not ask for bottled water and drank RO water, staffers said.
He was there for about 20-25 minutes. Two of the MPs on Modi’s table were from Gujarat. Union Minister Piyush Goyal also joined in after some time.
Realising that it was a “historic” occasion, Purohit requested the Prime Minister to write in a ‘Suggestion Book’ which he presented to him.
“Anna data, sukhi bhav (Blessings to the one who feeds),” wrote Modi in Hindi and signed it.
According to sources in Parliament, this was the first time any Prime Minister had lunch in the canteen as a customer.
Rajiv Gandhi had once eaten in the canteen but not as Prime Minister, the sources said.