Rahul Gandhi is seriously contemplating an image makeover. The former and perhaps would-be Congress chief wants to utilise the coronavirus crisis to project himself as a policy wonk, and a leader who is patient and ready to listen.
Rahul’s interview with former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Raghuram Rajan was a pointer in this direction. Insiders at 24, Akbar Road, say many more interactions with public policy experts are in the pipeline.
‘K’ is the key
Key Rahul aide Kanishka Singh is reportedly the architect of “Mission Rahul Gandhi 2.0”. Formerly with the New York-based merchant banking firm Lazard Freres & Co, nd son of distinguished diplomat S.K. Singh, Kanishka is addressed as “K” at the Tughlak Crescent office in New Delhi and in Congress circles.
He has reportedly been schooled in the Ahmed Patel-Motilal Vora mould as someone in the know, fiercely loyal and well-versed with the party’s assets, secrets and organisational set-up.
Guess who’s ‘inauspicious’
Rattled by a growing disquiet and the buzz of an inauspicious tag, BJP leader Jyotiraditya Scindia has started calling up influential persons in Delhi and Bhopal, including media representatives, ostensibly to inquire about their well-being.
Scindia’s induction in the BJP almost coincided with the coronavirus spread. Some disgruntled party leaders from Gwalior are said to have started a whisper campaign, wondering if his entry would prove productive for the BJP.
Scindia’s move to call up the media and others is a cue from vice-president Venkaiah Naidu who reportedly called up each and every mediaperson personally known to him.
The Congress’s Ahmed Patel has done a similar exercise to check on the well-being of his friends and acquaintances.
Second wave threat
A large number of expats from the Gulf are set to return to India. In Dubai, Muscat, Kuwait, Jeddah and Bahrain, lakhs of Indians, mostly blue-collar workers, are counting the days to return home.
The Gulf regimes have been pressuring the Narendra Modi government to expedite the return of Indian citizens. The move is a logistical nightmare and poses a threat to a second wave of the coronavirus upsurge.
If naval ships in the Gulf are pressed into action, the internal movement of these returnees would lead to many hazards.
The fake news pandemic amid the coronavirus crisis is posing its own problem. The Narendra Modi government is concerned over growing and wide circulation of fake circulars and notifications that look identical to official orders.
Union home minister Amit Shah has ordered a crackdown, directing state governments and police cybercells to deal sternly with it. In Gujarat, some NGOs have teamed up with lawyers to nail fake news. However, there is lot of political polarisation linked to fake news factories making the policing task much more challenging.
Actor Rishi Kapoor will be remembered for many things his wit, acting, easy manners and candour. Raj Kapoor’s son was a great storyteller too. His autobiography, Khullam Khulla. co-written with Meena Iyer in 2017, had many “honest” confessions.
Rishi wanted to “update” his memoirs with many more “squabbles, squirmishes, and disputes”. About mega-star Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi recalled that in the 1970s, many roles were “written for Amitabh” and remarked, “I guess we’ve been those small rungs in his ladder of success.”
Rishi had also admitted that his first “serious” girlfriend was a Parsi girl, Yasmin Mehta. who had given him a ring. During the making of Bobby, Rishi had given the ring to co-star Dimple Kapadia. Rishi also acknowledged that his wife Neetu Singh felt insecure when Dimple returned to films and did Sagar with him.
Offscreen Rishi Kapoor had an entertaining, sometimes controversial presence on Twitter. He tweeted in the most unfiltered manner about everything from the Gandhis to opposing a beef ban.
When actor Vinod Khanna died, Rishi had lamented film fraternity for failing to attend his funeral. “Shameful. Not one actor of this generation attended Vinod Khanna's funeral. And that too he has worked with. Must learn to respect,” Rishi had tweeted.