Prime Minister Narendra Modi surprised MPs having lunch in Parliament’s canteen on Monday when he suddenly joined them. He paid Rs. 29 for a vegetarian ‘thali’ (meal).
Around 18 MPs were having lunch, sitting in small groups at different tables in Room Number 70, when Mr. Modi walked in at 1 p.m.
The Prime Minister greeted the MPs. Some of them came to him to introduce themselves, according to the canteen staff. He then sat at a table that was 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,” Mr. Modi replied. He also ordered fruit salad.
A thali, consisting of palak sabzi, rajma, dal and salad, was served to him along with rice and a tandoori roti.
“The total bill was Rs. 29. He gave a Rs. 100 note 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, the staff said.
He was at the canteen for about 20 minutes. Two of the MPs at Mr. Modi’s table were from Gujarat. Union Minister Piyush Goyal joined them after some time.
Realising that it was a “historic” occasion, Mr. Purohit requested the Prime Minister to write in the ‘Suggestion Book.’ “Anna data, sukhi bhav (Blessings to the one who feeds),” wrote Mr. Modi in Hindi and signed it.
According to sources in Parliament, this was the first time a Prime Minister had had lunch in the canteen. Rajiv Gandhi had once eaten in the canteen, but he was not Prime Minister at the time, the sources said.