Rae Bareli: Holding a more than 40-year-old framed photograph of Ganesha — considered the god of good fortune — Jagdish Shukla, son of former PM Indira Gandhi’s “mentor and guru” Gaya Prasad, jumps with joy at his Rae Bareli home at news of Rahul’s coronation ceremony as Congress president on Saturday. Yet, he and his wife do not mince words in expressing Gaya Prasad’s wish before he died in 2010.
The Shukla family has kept alive a tradition since 1967 (Indira’s debut as MP here) of holding a hawan followed by a Ganesh aarti before a nomination is filed by a member of the Gandhi family in Rae Bareli.
“My father always told Rahul that he was reserved and quiet. He will need the support of Priyanka to make giant strides to gain aggression. He saw a striking resemblance between Indira and Priyanka,” Shukla told TOI at their home.
They dismissed the controversy about Rahul’s name being entered in a register meant for non-Hindus at the Somnath temple in Gujarat during the election campaign. “As you can see in the family photos, they would attend these pujas. They attend the Baleshwarji Temple of Lord Shiva and Sankha Devi Temple near the Ganga religiously each time they visit Rae Bareli. Do they need more proof that they are Hindus?” he asks.
The family, which still lives in one of the seven small rooms surrounding the open courtyard of the pre-Independence home, is quick to reject the charge that Rahul is taking a soft Hindutva path.
Shukla’s wife believes that Priyanka can fill her mother’s shoes in the family seat. “Priyanka johaiwoh prakharhai. Rahul thoda mukhtarbanihai (Priyanka is more categorical about her views while Rahul is slightly reserved). They are an ideal combination of siblings to run politics. We hope Priyanka enters this home in 2019 as a contestant and takes Ganesha’s good luck for her brother,” says Priti as she points an inscription made in 1966 that reads “Congress karyalaya”.
Indira became a frequent visitor to the family after her chance meeting with Gaya Prasad, who was working as a reporter at Navjivan, the Hindi edition of Congressrun newspaper National Herald, in 1965, and began to fondly call him “guru”.
(The article was first published on The Times of India written by Rohan Dua)