The prince of Delhi

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The man who could be India’s Prime Minister turned 41 this week. Friends, Nehru-Gandhis are our Bhutto-Zardaris. Rahul Gandhi, the son of Sonia and Rajiv Gandhi, is apparently India’s new hope. An elected member of parliament, he is called a youth icon. This is ironical since Rahul’s father was one year younger than him when he became India’s Prime Minister. Rajiv had succeeded his mother, Indira, who was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards in 1984. And after six years from now, Rahul will be of the same age as his father when a Hindu suicide bomber from Sri Lanka assassinated him in 1991.

Like his enigmatic mother and his charismatic sister (Priyanka Gandhi Vadhra), the prince of the Congress doesn’t talk much to the media. Apart from his general stand on secularism etc, we hardly have any idea of his political philosophies. There have been times when we have heard him addressing public rallies. The performances were unexciting. His speeches were dull and unoriginal; his style was unimpressive. Nevertheless, we Indians are still taken in by the phenomenon of Rahul Gandhi. We like his white skin and more importantly, we are thrilled that we can trace his bloodline to his grandmother Indira Gandhi and great grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru. Since he has no known girlfriend, Rahul Gandhi is considered India’s most eligible bachelor.

Rahul Gandhi lives in Delhi. On his birthday, I present you the humane side of the next man who would – most likely – be breathing down Pakistan’s neck. This is Rahul Gandhi’s life story through the landmarks of the Indian capital.

Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Rajinder Nagar: Rahul was delivered here on June 19, 1970, by Dr SK Bhandari. The same doctor also later delivered his sister, and many years later her children. Interestingly, the hospital was founded by a Lahore native, whose family continues to live in Pakistan.

The white bungalow at 8, Safdarjang Lane: This is the place where Rahul spent his growing years. Walking distance from the Gymkhana Club, this was the home of Rahul’s grandmother, PM Indira Gandhi. In 1984, she was assassinated on the grounds of this bungalow. The house is now a museum and among the several Nehru-Gandhi relics on display are the shreds of a kurta that Rahul’s father was wearing when he was assassinated in Tamil Nadu 20 years ago.

St Columba’s, Ashoka Place: This is Rahul’s former school. His friend film actor Shah Rukh Khan also studied there. But later, Rahul went to Doon School, Dehradun, which used to be like India’s Aitchison College. Rahul’s father Rajiv Gandhi was also a Doon alumnus.

St Stephen’s College, Delhi University: This was the alma mater of your dictator General Zia-ul-Haq. In 1989, Rahul enrolled in History Honours in the sports quota. He stayed just for a year. Like other freshers, he, too, was ragged. One of the things he had to do was to propose to girls and convince them of his eligibility. Was that hard? In one famous episode, a girl asked him why should she marry him, to which he replied, “Because I am taller than you and thinner than you.”

India Habitat Centre (IHC): Rahul’s recreational pursuits include scuba diving, bike racing and target shooting, not things you can do at the IHC, a prestigious cultural complex in central Delhi, but he is a member nevertheless. Maybe because he is fond of films by Japanese auteurs and IHC is known for giving space to offbeat artists and filmmakers.

Mehrauli and Faridabad: These are places in and around Delhi where Rahul owns agricultural land. (Yes, he seems to have farming interests.) His biography on the parliament site describes his profession as farmer! Rahul is the part owner of Indira Gandhi Farm House at village Sultanpur in Mehrauli and also owns 6 acres at village Mauja Hasanpur in Faridabad. (Such is the hypocrisy of our politicians.)

MGF Metropolitan mall: Don’t be surprised if you spot Rahul in this shopping complex in Saket, south Delhi. He owns two stores here – shop No. 24 and No. 17B. One lucky person I know was delighted to have rubbed shoulders – literally – with Rahul at a crowded party in Manre, a lounge in this mall.

12, Tughlak Lane: In 2005, Rahul moved from his mother’s house at 10, Janpath to this address, off the main road. The bungalow is said to have a little gym complete with an exercycle and treadmill. The interiors were done by Rahul’s sister, Priyanka.

Talkatora Stadium: Rahul was appointed Congress (I) general secretary in 2007. He later made his political debut in Talkatora, a sports stadium in central Delhi, where he addressed a 3,000-strong audience of Congress party members for three minutes. He began his speech in Hindi but quickly switched to English so that everyone could understand.

Khan Market: Before he entered politics, Rahul was often seen hanging out in what is Delhi’s snootiest market. People go there to see and be seen. Rahul would often be sighted in the Barista coffee shop, most likely sipping a cappuccino. He is also said to de-stress himself in Oberoi Hotel’s 360° restaurant and in the nightclub Kuki at Masjid Modh Commercial Centre.

7 Race Course Road: This is the address of Manmohan Singh, India’s Prime Minister. The first occupant was Rahul’s father. If events unfold according to the wishes of the Congress party, the bungalow’s next occupant will be Rahul.

 

Mayank Austen Soofi lives in a library. He has one website (The Delhi Walla) and four blogs. The website address: thedelhiwalla.com. The blogs: Pakistan Paindabad, Ruined By Reading, Reading Arundhati Roy and Mayank Austen Soofi Photos.

 

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