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The ‘personal visit’ of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari generated more than the usual hype, as his son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the official head of the country’s ruling party, had accompanied him.
That Bilawal, 23, met and interacted with Congress party scion Rahul Gandhi, taking forward the legacy of their political families at the Prime Minister’s luncheon, also generated much interest. His late mother, Benazir Bhutto, and Rajiv Gandhi had shared friendly relations.
Bilawal Zardari has been tweeting from his account @BBhuttoZardari since the time he landed on Indian soil. The fact that he was excited at his first visit to India was evident from the continuous updates . The last time Bilawal had tweeted was on January 4 but today he tweeted thrice in three hours.
Soon after the high-profile lunch at the PM’s residence, Bilawal tweeted, “Prez n I enjoyed Lunch with Rahul Gandhi and PM Singh. Lovely meal. much to learn from each other.” Prior to that, he sent out a message of peace, “AOA India, peace be with you. I have just landed in Delhi. 1st ever visit.”
According to PMO sources, Bilawal was seated next to Rahul Gandhi through the lunch and the two were engrossed in conversation. According to unconfirmed reports, Bilawal has extended an invitation to Rahul Gandhi to visit Pakistan.
Dismissing the conjectures about the ruling UPA’s chairperson, Sonia Gandhi’s inability to make it to the lunch, PMO sources said she’d informed them yesterday about being unable to come as she was indisposed. Some political observers say the senior Gandhi was astutely given centre-stage at this high-profile lunch where he was representing her.
Bilawal, though only 18 at the time, was appointed head of the Pakistan People’s Party after the assassination of his mother in 2007.
Rahul Gandhi’s official designation is still, apart from being a Lok Sabha member, that of a party general secretary. His clout, however, is all-pervasive, leading the party’s campaign in state elections. He’s been playing a greater role since Sonia Gandhi was taken ill last year.
Tweeted Bilawal soon after his visit to the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti: “Just visited Ajmer. So spiritual and peaceful.” With his sister , they uploaded on Twitter the picture of the visitor’s register where their mother, Benazir, had on December 14 2003, said, “I feel great support in coming to Ajmer Sharif and offering prayers.”