Saying Goodbye

Sushmita Dev, the firebrand Mahila Congress chief, held a prayer meeting for her father, veteran Congress leader and former Union minister Santosh Mohan Dev, who passed away recently. At an event attended by Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, Pranab Mukherjee, P. Chidambaram, Ahmed Patel and a host of Congress leaders, young Sushmita gave a very moving speech. Speaking simply but eloquently, she narrated how she and her family were coping with the loss of her father, drawing on incidents from her everyday life to come to terms with the loss. She also narrated how a friend of hers, who had lost his father in a violent death, told her that “You never get used to losing someone, you always think you will see the person when you walk into the room. But over time, it will stop hurting so much.” Later, when I asked her, she said the friend in question was Rahul Gandhi. And certainly Rahul and his family have seen more than their share of violent deaths in his family. Only recently at the University of California, he had recalled how his grandmother was gunned down by the very guards he used to play badminton with. It is hard to come to terms with any death, but gruesome assassinations take their own toll.

Sushmita Dev (left) with the late Santosh Mohan Dev.

The MP From Manhattan

The late Murli Deora was also known informally as the MP from Manhattan—as much as the MP from South Mumbai—on account of his vast overseas network. It was a well known fact that any visit of Sonia or Rajiv Gandhi (as party president) overseas was organised with the help of Deora senior’s informal network of senators and industrialists. Now, the mantle has been passed on to the next generation, for whenever Rahul Gandhi travels abroad, he is usually accompanied by Murli Deora’s son Milind. Interestingly, at one get together during Rahul’s recent visit to California, a senator commented, “We are not just overseas friends of the Congress, but also overseas friends of the Deora family.” But it is much more than just organising the itinerary, for Milind and Rahul have built a rapport based on a common interest in geopolitics, technology and even pet dogs. Milind’s pug is called Muddy, while Rahul’s pet achieved notoriety after rebel Congress leader Himanta Biswa Sarma complained how Rahul kept playing with his dog during a meeting with party leaders.

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