By Coomi Kapoor
Gurugram: Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has vacated her Lodhi Estate government bungalow and moved to her duplex penthouse apartment in the exclusive Aralias, a multi-storey apartment block in Gurugram, Haryana. The buildings are described by the promoter DLF as “surpassing most global luxury standards”. Vadra may have lost a prized Lutyens address in the heart of Delhi, but her new residence, which she purchased many years back, does have compensations. The covered area is some 10,000 square feet. Residents of Aralias and next door Magnolia towers can enjoy two golf courses set in some 100 acres, a club, a multi-cuisine restaurant, 24 X7 concierge service, a saloon, a spa, squash courts, tennis courts and three swimming pools. The neighbours include DLF owner K P Singh, MD of Hero Cycles Pankaj Munjal and other high-flyers such as Sanjeev Gupta, Shikhar Dhawan and Suhel Seth. The problem for Vadra is that the complex is so exclusive, the residents will not take kindly to the obtrusive security detail for Vadra, who enjoys Z-plus security. The Congress political workers with their scruffy kurtas and pyjamas will probably meet the Congress general secretary for Uttar Pradesh in Delhi.
Mind Rear Guard
Political writers often label the factions in the Congress as old guard and young turks, but these terms have lost their relevance. The party division is not by age, but on the question that whether a Gandhi should necessarily be party president. A ginger group in the Congress, comprising known names who are in their late 50s or even older, secretly discussed the issue. A senior legal eagle got wind of it and leaked the news to the Gandhis, scuttling the talks. Thanks to the Scindia and Pilot rebellions, the 2004 Rahul brigade which included Milind Deora, Jitin Prasada, Sandeep Dikshit and R P N Singh is now eyed suspiciously. The Rahul groupies who want to install him as president are faceless, backroom boys with no political clout, who have been elevated by Gandhi in the last few years. They include K C Venugopal, Randeep Surjewala, Kaushal Vidyarthee, Alankar Sawai, Sachin Rao, Rajeev Satav and Kanishka Singh. Last week, at the Congress Rajya Sabha virtual meet, only a few supported Satav’s demand that Rahul return as president. Partly because of the murmurs at the national level, the Congress adopted a softer “forgive and forget’’ tone towards the rebellious Pilot rather than the usual “off with his head’’ response.
Can Do Better
Nitish Kumar’s popularity graph is at an all-time low. The perception in Bihar is that the Chief Minister has been unresponsive throughout the pandemic. He requested frantic Bihari migrants to remain where they were and it was the neighbouring UP CM Yogi Adityanath who bused them to the Bihar border. Regardless, Nitish may yet have a head start in the coming Assembly polls because of the TINA factor. The RJD, particularly Lalu Prasad’s family, is deeply divided. Lalu could have made the difference, but he is still in jail, even if he remains ensconced in a Ranchi medical institution, thanks to a friendly Jharkhand government. After seven years, Lalu has nearly completed his sentences and is hopeful of getting bail from the Supreme Court in the last case. But even if he is allowed out of prison, Lalu can only campaign. He is barred from standing for elections. Meanwhile, pollster Prashant Kishor, who once showed an interest in his home state, appears now to be waiting for the 2025 elections. His candidate will reportedly be the young Pushpam Priya Choudhary of the new Plurals Party. Her catchy slogan is: “Bihar can do better.’’
It’s not just the Congress which is divided in Rajasthan, the BJP is also split. The BJP effort to assist Sachin Pilot in his attempts to dislodge Ashok Gehlot is led by Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat who is close to Amit Shah and in the anti-Vasundhara Raje camp. Raje was not even seen in Rajasthan till very recently. Though she would obviously prefer an ageing Gehlot to a young Pilot as a political adversary, the insinuation that Raje was in league with Gehlot is probably incorrect. True, the Rajasthan government had appealed in the Supreme Court against the High Court order to evict Raje from her government bungalow in Jaipur, but the law that was struck down would have also benefited Gehlot. When she was heading the state, Raje had passed an order allotting all former state CMs government bungalows for life.
On Dog Duty
During the initial 21-day lockdown in March, when lakhs of migrant labourers were in enforced quarantine, only very few in essential services were permitted free movement. But passes were handed out liberally by police stations to those claiming to be stray dog feeders. Many of these passes were misused by domestic servants to report for duty.
Source: The Indian Express