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Marriage Wows  

Marriage WowsHis designation may be Additional Principal Secretary but PK Mishra is seen as the most powerful person in the PMO—he served many years in Gujarat as the then chief minister Narendra Modi’s right hand man. Not surprisingly, the wedding of Mishra’s son last week was a high profile affair with the who’s who of government and business, including everyone who matters in the PMO (the PM was out of town), gathered at the Airports Authority of India Institute in New Delhi. The gossip was about two subjects—Nirav Modi and the name of the next cabinet secretary. The wedding invite clearly stated “no gifts” but everyone came with presents, leading to jokes about packets that looked like jewellery boxes and whether they had the Nirav Modi stamp on them. The choice of cabinet secretary, according to…

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Marriage Wows  

Marriage WowsHis designation may be Additional Principal Secretary but PK Mishra is seen as the most powerful person in the PMO—he served many years in Gujarat as the then chief minister Narendra Modi’s right hand man. Not surprisingly, the wedding of Mishra’s son last week was a high profile affair with the who’s who of government and business, including everyone who matters in the PMO (the PM was out of town), gathered at the Airports Authority of India Institute in New Delhi. The gossip was about two subjects—Nirav Modi and the name of the next cabinet secretary. The wedding invite clearly stated “no gifts” but everyone came with presents, leading to jokes about packets that looked like jewellery boxes and whether they had the Nirav Modi stamp on them. The choice of cabinet secretary, according to the power hitters present, had narrowed down to frontrunner Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia, petroleum secretary KD Tripathi and dark horse, Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia.

Moving House

Moving HouseThere is underway a mass political movement in the heart of the capital—the shifting of party headquarters out of Lutyens’ Delhi. This followed a Supreme Court directive asking parties to vacate official bungalows located in Delhi’s most prized location. The BJP moved from Ashoka Road and inaugurated its spanking new headquarters on Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg last week on its plot allotted by the UPA government. The Congress has delayed its shift to a nearby location but will have to give up four government bungalows it occupies—24, Akbar Road, the party headquarters, 26 Akbar Road (officially a Seva Dal office), 5, Raisina Road, the Youth Congress office, and C-II/109, Chanakyapuri, which is occupied by Vincent George, Sonia Gandhi’s close aide.

The Doklam Effect

The Doklam EffectDespite the optimism reflected in official statements, the Doklam incident involving Chinese troops and build-up on the border has left deep psychological scars and caused virtual panic in South Block. The result is that for the first time, prior to the annual boundary talks between Bhutan and China (due next month), top officers from India have flown into Thimpu to brief the Bhutan government on the stand they should take. They included National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Chief of Army Staff Bipin Rawat and foreign secretary Vijay Gohkhale. The icing on the cake was the pledge that Prime Minister Modi will pay an official visit to Bhutan later this year.

Trump Legacy

Trump LegacyBefore he became President, Donald Trump flew to India to inaugurate one of his real estate projects here. The glossy brochures released then had photos of Trump and his family, including Ivanka, in the Trump Tower in Manhattan. His son, Donald Trump Jr was in India to inaugurate the glitzy new Trump high rise in Gurgaon. The brochure, however, is different—President Trump’s name and image, as well as that of his daughter Ivanka, who joined his administration, has been removed from brochures, websites and billboards from projects in India and elsewhere in the world, under US law. Trump Jr is a private citizen so there are no rules that prohibit him from pursuing his business interests, even though President Trump is still a beneficial owner of the family business. India is the Trump Organisation’s biggest international market, with four real estate projects underway. The Trump family earned as much as $3 million in royalties in 2016 from ventures in India, according to the President’s financial records.

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