Who'll be Congress boss?

Apr 05, 2012, 07:42 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

An indication of how troubled the Congress is in Maharashtra is the number of delegations flying down to meet party bosses in the Capital.

Following our story on the delegation of MLAs out to oust CM Prithviraj Chavan, there’s news of another such group. But this time it’s to campaign for someone to be instated as the president of the Mumbai Regional Congress.  Ever since Kripashankar Singh was shown the door for alleged corruption charges there has been a spate of names doing the rounds of who will fill his shoes. 

Top of the pick according to our political sources is Chandrakant Handore, the Dalit MLA, who served as Minister of Social Justice and who has popular support amongst party cadre and the backing of Ex-Minister of State for Information Technology and Communications, Gurudas Kamat. 

Another close contender is Eknath Gaikwad, MP who represents the Mumbai South Central Constituency. However, our sources tell us that Gaikwad’s daughter Varsha, the Congress MLA from Dharavi might just emerge as the consensus choice. “Not only is she a Dalit but also a woman,” we’re told “but she might just be exactly what the doctor ordered to improve things for the ailing party.” 

Solid Blue genes
Even though he’s been in the news for all the wrong reasons (the breakup of his marriage to the lovely Yamini Namjoshi, and his linkups) we have no doubt that Purab Kohli is going to emerge on the basis of his talent alone.

After all he’s born with exceptional genes: his grand-uncles were the legendary Anand brothers, Chetan, Dev and Goldie and his cousins include Shekhar Kapur, Natasha Nischol and Suneil Anand and he counts amongst relatives half of Bollywood’s luminaries. Now for that all — important hit! 

Boat People
In the pecking order on Mumbai seas, there’s a caste system that prevails. At the top of the pick are the sailors: craggy men like Captain Mongia, lawyers David DaSilva and Aspi Chinoy, adman Randhir Behl and entrepreneur Bharat Kewalramani who like nothing more than steering their vessels through choppy seas while they ruminate on life and the ocean.

Next come the owners of cruise liners, the Mallyas, the Mahindras, the Ambanis and Singhanias whose sumptuous beauties, docked around the Gateway have become something of a tourist item.

Under them are the owners of speedboats, essentially owners of homes in Alibag, who use their nifty vehicles to jet up and down on weekends. And bottom of the heap? People like you and I, my friend, who rub shoulders with the fisherfolk and weekend picnickers on the catamarans and public ferries! Mumbai’s very own maritime caste-system! 

Hugging heavyweights
Now that IPL Chief and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Rajiv Shukla is going to be occupying our mind space and airwaves over the next few days, we thought it would be nice to carry a picture of him in the days when he was an ordinary hack and one of the most amiable and well-connected ones at that.

This picture taken in the early 90s shows him exercising his legendary charm on and bonhomie with erstwhile Samajwadi boss Amar Singh when both men hadn’t emerged as the political heavyweights they were later to become.

Insiders who know a bit about the machinations of Delhi politics will know what a rare picture this is: the two men went on to rival parties, competing power bases and often antagonistic politics. But once upon a time all seemed hunky-dory. 

Delhi soiree
It was a sit down dinner that featured all of Delhi’s movers and shakers. When Analjit Singh founder and chairman of Max Health Care and Max Bupa hosted a dinner for 80 guests on his lawns in honour of George Osborne, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, you could be sure that every one of note would be there, partaking of the excellent ITC Maurya catered North Indian cuisine and the French wine. (I guess champagne would have not been too politically correct given that India and the UK have still to sort out the Vodafone mess.) 

A guest who attended said, “When I looked around the table it was filled with captains of industry, politicians and top media people like Anand Sharma, Aroon Purie, William Dalrymple, Nikhil Khanna, Chiki Sarkar, Karan Thapar and Vinod Mehta. But most riveting of all,” she says, “Was the centerpiece: a gigantic bowl of beautiful orchids.” Aroon Purie, who just became a grandfather, was looking particularly chuffed, though our source says the dapper publisher hardly resembled one. 

Mumbai artist making international waves
An Indian artist creating a tsunami in international art circles happens to be our very own ‘Mumbai chi mulgi’ the edgy conceptual artist Shilpa Gupta, known for her avant garde works, which include projects that involve selling bottles of simulated Pakistani and Indian blood to commuters and displaying canvasses that have been ‘blessed’ by contemporary gurus like Sri Sri Ravishankar.

Gallerist Shireen Gandhy who happens to know Shilpa for over two decades says, “Not only is she one of India’s first real conceptual artist, but her work makes a strong political comment.” When Shireen first saw Gupta’s work she says it was so “out of the box and astonishing”, that she didn’t really know what to do with it,” a refreshing admission from someone who has mentored some of India’s leading artists.

Since then not only has Gupta exhibited at the Tate Modern, the Serpentine and every other international gallery of note — but her exhibition at Gandhi’s Chemould in January this year held right after the Delhi Art Summit redressed her position in her home county as one of the foremost artists of the day. 

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