Cancelling Club Class

The Indian Women’s Press Club will now be relocating from its bungalow in Lutyens Delhi to a flat in Chanakyapuri. The Director of Estates, Housing & Urban Development Ministry served the club a vacation notice in May seeking the “retention” of 5 Windsor Place, the bungalow that had housed the Women’s Press Corps since the early 1990s. A deadline of end July was given. Part of the club’s charm was its proximity to Parliament and the home like atmosphere, down to a reading room and some computers for those who wanted a workstation. The fact that it did not serve alcohol but focused on home cooked meals added to its appeal as it became a nesting place for reporters on the beat. The alternate venue will clearly be not as convenient. This comes amidst the backdrop of some takeover moves at another club—the Delhi Gymkhana Club. Through an amazing self-goal thanks to a cabal of members spurred by a power-hungry ousted president, the club literally handed over its keys to the government. Now the control is under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, and one can only speculate as to its future. The signs are ominous. Recently, the club members have been asked to fill a copious form with data which is already available with the club records. Apparently, the aim is to check how many members belong to the same family. But the very Articles of Association that formed the club, had made provisions for the inclusion family members, as this was planned as a family club. However, if the MCA does succeed in a permanent takeover, then this is one provision that will definitely be changed. As it is there was a move to axe widowed lady members but that has been put on hold for now. However, if the club members want to blame someone, it’s not the MCA but the thwarted ego and vested interests of the cabal that went against their own.

(Above and righh): Sepia prints of the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Delhi Gymkhana Club.

Will it be Smriti vs Sonia in Rae Bareli?

Battle lines are clearly drawn between the BJP and the Congress after the Smriti-Sonia face-off in Parliament. With the Congress not backing down, it does seem as if the narrative is being set for the next round of elections, with both sides trying to show how they are committed to the women’s cause. The Congress is busy reminding everyone who cares that it was they who introduced the Women’s Reservation Bill, while the BJP is going around claiming that a Congress leader insulted the President of India (though Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has since sent an apology note to the President). But the one silver lining for the Congress is that Sonia Gandhi is back in leadership mode. This is one of those rare occasions that she is leading from the front and the party is delighted, for, clearly, they see in her a more winnable face than Rahul Gandhi. However, what about Smriti Irani? She is not one to sit back. In fact, if the buzz is right then Smriti may just change her constituency and take on Sonia from Rae Bareli in the next general elections. That is of course if Sonia contests, depending on her health. But one can expect some more old-fashioned political face-offs as neither side is ready to give in.

Women’s Reservation Bill

Will Prime Minister Narendra Modi bring out the Women’s Reservation Bill from the closet and get it passed? The Smriti-Sonia fracas apart, his own politics has been women oriented. Most of his schemes, from Ujjwala, to abolishing triple talaq and free food grains, are targeted towards women voters, who have repaid his trust with votes. Women remain Modi’s most loyal vote bank and if he ensures that this bill is passed on his watch then the PM will have a sure-fire constituency. So, could this be something the PMO is mulling over?