Priyanka at a book launch
The launch of scholar-cum-foreign-and-security policy expert Srinath Raghavan’s new book, curiously titled ‘The Most Dangerous Place’, on the history of US relations with South Asia, at Lutyens’ Delhi’s favourite intellectual hub, the IIC, became an event of sorts. Not because of the content of the book per se, but the audience it drew — Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and her strapping young son Raihan. Casually dressed in a flowing white chikenkari suit and a brightly embroidered Kutchi jhola, Priyanka mingled with those present just like anyone else, without any hang-ups.
Her rather handsome son too was rather ordinarily attired — a white linen shirt with sleeves rolled up. His blue Nehru jacket, however, was matched with Gucci loafers! Priyanka’s rumoured to be writing a memoir on her father Rajiv Gandhi, to be published by Penguin, and scheduled for a year-end launch. Raghavan’s book too is a Penguin publication: one of the reasons why she came by.
Priyanka takes on Swamy
That Priyanka is fiercely protective of her family is well-known—a response mechanism that set in as an effect of personal tragedies. The aftermath of her father’s death was mostly handled by her; one of the reasons why she took Vipasana to manage her own emotional trauma. Just like her mother Sonia Gandhi got her support in the initial days of her politics and parliamentary career, her brother Rahul Gandhi receives it now. For him she took to Twitter to counter the Congress first family’s bugbear Subramanian Swamy. She replied to his controversial dope test jibe at the Congress chief (in view of Punjab CM Amarinder Singh’s decision to put government employees through such tests) with a comical video of a Swamy faux pas. Only thing is, the marriage ceremony video was an old one.
Happenings in Parliament
Some days are simply not like others, sometimes for no particular reason. Syama Prasad Mookerjee’s birth anniversary was such a day in Parliament. The routine ceremony of offering floral tributes to the portrait of the Jan Sangh founder became a talking point, after Prime Minister Modi was seen gesturing towards BJP veteran Lal Krishna Advani. Going by protocol, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan was the first to offer the flowers, next in the line was the Prime Minister. But he chose to give Advani precedence, much to the surprise of those present.
It did little to melt the icy cold vibes between the two though. But the analysis on what this meant was somewhat overtaken by late afternoon when it was heard that the Upper House had got flooded due to clogging of a drainage pipe above. Water had to be pumped out. The Parliament building, which is already undergoing renovation, is undoubtedly under much stress. During the advent of 24x7 TV channels, cables were laid down in the storm drains of the heritage building, weakening the drainage system and the structure itself!
Women in Sangh
Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s dig that the RSS does not allow women in its fold, suggesting it’s an essentially patriarchal organisation, was not taken kindly to by any of the women leaders of the BJP. Most of them stood up to be counted, except Sumitra Mahajan. Why? At a recent function of the Sangh’s women’s wing, Rashtriya Sevika Samiti, to commemorate founder-member Laxmibai Kelkar, Mahajan explained that as Lok Sabha Speaker she could not speak out, but she wrote a letter to Rahul apprising him of the Samiti’s work and foundational values.
What’s Nitish up to?
Bihar CM Nitish Kumar is courting both sides of the political divide—or at least that’s the impression he himself seems to be keen on giving, to build pressure on the BJP to treat him with a little more seriousness. However, in case the pressure tactics, instead of delivering JD-U a bigger share of seats for the Lok Sabha contest, actually goes awry, Nitish is indeed trying to keep his options open. He not just called jailed RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav to enquire about his health— the latter is indeed not keeping well—he also sent his emissary Prashant Kishor to broker peace with Lalu. What Nitish did not anticipate is the wall he would encounter, in the form of Tejashwi Yadav and his former colleague Sharad Yadav, whom he ousted from the party as well as the Rajya Sabha.