Union Home Minister Amit Shah chaired the 24th meeting of the Western Zonal Council in Goa on Thursday. These meetings are generally low-key affairs, with barely a couple of bureaucrats accompanying the minister. However, in Shah’s first such meeting as Home Minister, as many as eight bureaucrats accompanied him. Among them were Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, the additional secretary of border management division and multiple joint secretaries. Chief Ministers of all key states in the western zone also attended.
That Congress president Sonia Gandhi was completely supportive of Rahul Gandhi stepping down as party chief, taking responsibility for the Lok Sabha election defeat, became clear on Thursday when she equated his act with her husband Rajiv Gandhi’s decision not to stake claim for government formation in 1989. She said the Congress had emerged as the single largest party then, but Rajiv did not stake claim because his moral strength, magnanimity and honesty did not allow him to do so. “Nobody can do it today, the way Rajiv-ji did it. Rahul did it,” she said.
It is not often that a fusion rock band like Kabir Cafe performs at a political party event. That, too, an event organised by India’s grand old party — to mark the 75th birth anniversary of former PM Rajiv Gandhi. Well, the Congress, it seems, thought it would be appropriate to adapt to the changing times as it remembered Rajiv, who at 40 was India’s youngest Prime Minister. Kabir Cafe was not the only attraction, actor Swara Bhaskar was the master of ceremonies. In attendance were Sonia Gandhi, Rahul and Priyanka, and the top leadership of the Congress, including CMs Ashok Gehlot, Kamal Nath and Bhupesh Bhagel. While performing its last song for the evening, the band urged those who could stand to be on their feet. Among the first to stand up was former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Soon the entire top leadership was on their feet, prompting Bhaskar to observe later that the Congress, which is often called the grand old party, now looks like the grand young party of India.