On a day he would have loved to be in Jalandhar to celebrate the Aam Aadmi Party’s return to the Lok Sabha via the byelection caused by its former Congress MP’s death, Raghav Chadha got engaged to Bollywood actress Parineeti Chopra, better known as the sister of Priyanka Chopra Jonas.
It was a hot Saturday afternoon, yet the normally somnolent Kapurthala House — once the sprawling Delhi home of Kapurthala’s Maharaja Paramjit Singh and now the official residence of Punjab’s Governor and Chief Minister whenever they’re in Delhi — was a beehive of activity.
Photographers and videographers jostled for the right angles, shouted out requests to the guests to pose for pictures and excitedly exchanged names, workmen walked in with last-minute deliverables, the self-important granthi sauntered in, and Bollywood favourite designer Manish Malhotra darted in and out in his atelier clothes with Parineeti’s evening dress before returning, formally dressed, to join the party.
For the paparazzi who were waiting for a rush of Bollywood and political celebrities, the action started only after the evening descended on this quieter part of Lutyens’s Delhi just across the road from the Taj Mahal Hotel. It started out as a low-key affair meant for loved ones and close friends.
Priyanka, who was with her sister at The Lodhi hotel after flying in from Mumbai in the morning, zipped in, flashing a victory sign from her car. Later, she walked the red carpet — not quite the one at the Met Gala — dazzling the paparazzi with her neon green sari-gown paired with a corset.
Before she arrived, Chadha’s seniors in the Rajya Sabha, both representing West Bengal in the Upper House — ace Supreme Court advocate and Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi with wife, ghazal and Sufi singer Anita Singhvi, and eloquent TMC MP, and former quizmaster Derek O’Brien, also with wife, Dr Tonuca Basu — walked in and happily posed for the photographers. Singhvi even showed the paper bag in which he was carrying a gift for the couple.
Then came the political bigwigs — first came Punjab Chief MInister Bhagwant Mann with his wife, Dr Gurpreet Kaur; Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal followed with his wife, Sunita Kejriwal; Shiv Sena (UBT) leader and Uddhav Thackeray’s son, Aditya Thackeray, obliged the paps and walked in; the former finance minister and Congress Rajya Sabha MP, P. Chidambaram, came straight off his television appearances post the party’s victory in Karnataka; AAP national spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh; and former Meghalaya chief minister, Mukul Sangma.
Later in the evening, Kejriwal, Mann, Sanjay Singh, Priyanka and the couple posed for a group picture against an elegant white backdrop bedecked with flowers.
On a day when the Karnataka election results were consuming the mindspace of the nation, these politicians were taking a well-deserved break, though, without doubt, their conversation must have been all about the changing political narrative.