House of Nehru
It’s open season on the Nehru-Gandhi family — anyone who has enjoyed any proximity to its members is taking to writing tell-all memoirs. Among the glut of books on them, Indira Gandhi in particular, is T V Rajeswar’s India: The Crucial Years. The phenomenon has got Congress oldies bemused but not bereft of their acid sense of humour. One of them quipped, “The family has become like the House of Windsor, still news-worthy, but the declining clout makes them an easy punching bag.”
Another book is being written on Kalyan Singh and his days as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh in the run-up to the Babri masjid demolition. A close Singh aide of those days, now a secretary in an infrastructure ministry in Delhi and a Narendra Modi favourite, is on the job. The book promises to reveal why Singh failed to keep his commitment to the Supreme Court that no harm would come to the masjid. It seems neither Singh nor anyone in the top echelons of the UP administration expected the structure to go down the way it did on December 6, 1992.
The appointment of 1984-batch IFS officer Gautam Bambawale as the Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan is seen to be a bit curious. Bambawale knows Mandarin well and was expected to get a China posting after his Bhutan sojourn.
San Jose chants
Those chosen to put up a culture show at the Prime Minister’s San Jose NRI jamboree were in for surprise. They were told to practise rhythmic chanting.
Envoy to the Queen’s Land
In the same mega foreign-service reshuffle, Navtej Sarna has become High Commissioner to the UK. This has set to rest partly jocular speculation of a possible non-IFS, a cherubic-faced and voluble journalist, getting the coveted London posting.
Inputs to Shah
Commerce and Industries Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s no-nonsense demeanour has earned her friends and detractors in equal measure. Her proficiency in lawyerly English and her ability to quickly analyse issues has attracted BJP chief Amit Shah’s attention. Shah, apparently, often takes feedback from her. This is his way of keeping up with the ‘thinker types’ in the party.