The Shuffle Game: Behind the scenes

Last Updated: Sun, Oct 28, 2012 20:09 hrs

New Delhi: The famously reclusive Sonia Gandhi lived up to her reputation for reticence on Sunday.

After the swearing-in ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan, all invited guests, including ministers, gathered for small talk and eats in the adjacent hall. The Congress president, widely considered the most powerful woman in the country, was predictably the star of the show.

Journalists tried all their fabled tricks to get her to speak, but only got smiles and some sweet nothing soundbites. "Let this exercise get over," was all she would say when asked about revamping the party.

The Vadra factor

When one journalist had the audacity to ask about her son-in-law Robert Vadra, who has been accused of some irregularities in property deals, Sonia Gandhi remained studiously quiet.

Rahul and youth brigade

Rahul Gandhi, widely seen as the prime minister-in-waiting, has perhaps learnt the virtues of reticence in these soundbite-driven times. Gandhi, dressed in white kurta-pyjama, was found huddled with his so-called Gen Next buddies. Milind Deora, Sachin Pilot, Jyotiraditya Scindia were engaged in an animated chatter. Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma was also seen talking to him in hush-hush tones.

From time to time, a fawning Congress member shook hands with him. But for the assembled journalists, Gandhi had only silence to offer. When asked what role he played in the shuffle, he just looked through the person. Finally, he told the journos to leave him.

Saying it in Hindi

Ninong Ering, the Congress MP from Arunachal Pradesh, surprised many by his impeccable Hindi as he took oath as minister of state for minority affairs. This prompted a quip from someone in the audience that he should be sent to China on a goodwill mission. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of its territory, a contention that has been firmly and repeatedly rejected by India.

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