Thiruvananthapuram: Customers at the nondescript 'Centre Hotel' in a suburb of Attingal town in this district were in for a surprise when they noticed that one of their fellow people was none other than Union minister Smriti Irani. The 42-year-old BJP leader on a Kerala visit had just parked her car by the roadside at Alamcode and entered the restaurant for lunch along with her party colleagues while returning from a socio-religious meeting.
The actress-turned-politician from Delhi was in to lunch at the place 30 km north of the state capital, to where she was heading after a women's wing meeting of the Navati Mandala Mahapuja in Sivagiri at the Gurudeva Mahasamadhi - the memorial of iconic social reformer Narayana Guru (1854-1928).
The minister was travelling southward from the Sivagiri Mutt hilltop in Varkala on Monday afternoon, having wound up the Stree Samajam conclave when she asked party colleague V Muraleedharan, MP, whether the team could take a tea break. At this, another leader, Thottakkadu Sasi, suggested that he could arrange to bring in tea to their vehicle, but Smriti said she preferred to drop in at a restaurant.
That is how the leaders, also including senior functionary J R Padmakumar, entered Centre Hotel, much to the amazement of the runners of the restaurant as well as other customers. The minister, by then, changed her food plans and ordered vegetarian meals from the three-storey restaurant known for its meat and chicken dishes.
A happy Smriti, after her rice-and-sambar meals, reached the counter, where owner Hussain and his son Rahim showed reluctance in accepting payment. The minister insisted she would pay for the whole team that also comprised her personal staff, to which the father-son duo relented.
Smriti, a Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat, soon tweeted: Addressed a Mahila Sammelan at Sivagiri Mutt in Varkala (Kerala) as part of Sree Narayana Gurudeva Mahasamadhi 'Navathi' celebrations.