"According to officials, the scene is the same at the Prime Minister's Office."
New Delhi, May 30 - Gujarat Bhavan, which presently serves as the temporary residence of Narendra Modi, has been receiving a record number of calls, bouquets, sweets, fruits and other gifts ever since the prime minister moved in here eight days ago.
While some gifts do reach the man, who rose from humble roots to India's top executive post, most of these, including a 25 kg cake, are distributed among the staff.
Every inch and corner of the bhavan, the state headquarters in Chanakyapuri, the capital's dipomatic enclave, which houses 81 guest rooms as well as the office of the resident commissioner, has been occupied by gifts, mostly flowers and bouquets, officials told IANS.
After the hospitality staff failed to find a space for the bouquets -- coming from all corners of the country to congratulate the man who led the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to a stupendous victory -- they started decorating them on the hundreds of flower-pots that dot its manicured open lawn, with its small landscaped rock garden usually used for cultural programmes.
Modi shifted to Gujarat Bhavan, at 11 Kautilya Marg, just a stone's throw away from 7 Race Course Road, the official residence of the prime minister, on May 22 after he resigned as Gujarat chief minister. Modi is yet to move into his official residence.
Since then, officials told IANS, the gifts - mostly from common people - have been simply pouring in.
While Modi uses a separate entry to reach his room, the Special Protection Group (SPG) has totally taken charge of the security of the bhavan, which is surrounded by other such state headquarters, embassies and high commissions.
All the gifts are scanned and checked thoroughly (by the SPG) before the staff takes charge. Then they are shown to him and he decides about them. Mostly they are distributed, the official said.
There are two types of gifts. One is from the common people, who send flowers, sometimes sweets and fruits, while the second category comprises those who come to meet him or pay courtesy call, the official added.
Another official said that while the bouquets and flowers are decorated, the sweets and fruits are distributed among the staff, mostly the helpers like cooks and the cleaning staff.
Officials said a 25 kg cake came from a head of a hospitality group.
Modiji saw it and asked the officials to distribute it to everyone in the bhavan. The cake was very delicious, the official told IANS.
Another official said that while handling gifts are easy, what is making their work tough is taking phone calls from morning to late night from strangers who want to personally call and congratulate the prime minister.
I got a call from a woman who lives in Delhi, who desperately wanted to talk to the prime minister and congratulate him. We tried to make her understand that he was busy, but she wouldn't listen. Finally, I managed to make her understand and told her to write to him instead. She then asked me the address. I told her that just write Narendra Modi, Prime Minister's Office, South Block, New Delhi. It took me 40 minutes to convince her that her letter would reach him, another official added.
Officials said though they don't mind the tight security around the bhavan, what they do miss are the street food vendors.
Due to the security around the place, all the vendors have been removed. Even accessing the bhavan has become a little difficult, the official added.
According to officials, the scene is the same at the Prime Minister's Office.
It is a new regime and a new government. It is but natural that top officials and bureaucrats would come and visit him. Our offices are just packed with flowers and bouquets, the PMO official told IANS.