Rupa Gulab, Hard News Media, July 2006

The theme song for the current drama the Mahajan family is going through could well be the 1940s calypso hit: Shame and Scandal in de Family. The Mahajan’s version has darker, deeper overtones as it deals with cold-blooded murder, jail sentence and drug addiction.

Interestingly, the original version of the song, Shame and Scandal, was written for a Hollywood flick called I Walked with a Zombie. Which is why I find it difficult to suppress a smirk when I think of Rahul’s current predicament: being caught with a packet of, erm, talcum powder. One assumes that his dad didn’t lovingly dust him with a powder puff every night before beddy bye, but his dad’s secretary Vivek Moitra did the needful. Unfortunately, the secretaries I know are an unhelpful lot compared to him: they draw the line at stirring the coffee and grudgingly fixing dental appointments.

What a long way Rahul has come in such a short time. When I watched him light his dad’s funeral pyre I felt a surge of compassion for the poor lad and I admired his stoicism in the face of tragedy. Now I realise, maybe he was just stoned immaculate. And don’t get me started on how I feel about him chasing coke with champagne (or so the Delhi Police allege) with his dad’s ashes in the same house. I’m just grateful that he didn’t get so blown that he confused the two powders, that’s all. I must say I’m pretty astonished at former prime minister, AB Vajpayee’s indulgent, “Boy’s will be boys” plea. Rahul is not a boy any more, he’s 31, that makes him a man. He’s at the age when he should be on a pension plan, for god’s sake.

So who is to blame for all this? Let’s get back to the original Mr Mahajan, affectionately known as Power Point Pramod, who, according to the over-the-top eulogies that poured in, could have been India’s next prime minister (Hello? Where did that come from?) What sort of father gives his son 60 to 70 grand as pocket money everyday? Given that level of indulgence, I’m not astonished that Rahul turned into a party animal. Admittedly, Pramod loved the high life himself and, according to an editor I admire ardently, was always surrounded by tentwallahs. And, let’s not forget that Pramod wasn’t exactly Mr Clean himself, he had a skeleton in his cupboard, namely journalist Shivani Bhatnagar. It is rumoured that he was connected with her murder, indeed the wife of the murder-accused claimed that Shivani was carrying Pramod’s baby, though no DNA test was conducted eventually. This could be a shining example of Mr Fix It at work, no wonder he was deeply admired in political circles. But, it’s not good to speak ill of the dead.

My sympathies right now are with the matriarch of the family, Prabhavati Mahajan: One son an unrepentant murderer, one son dead and gone, one son who’s just joined Raj Thackeray’s party and one cokehead for a grandson. I honestly wonder which cross is the hardest to bear. If I were her, I’d be in consultation with astrologers and hastily perform yagnas to remove the terrible curse that’s fallen on the family.

So, will the Sangh Parivar pitch Rahul as a leader after the hoo-ha dies down? I hope not but it can’t be written off. After all, public memory is very short and a lot of people do scrunch up their brows and say “Shivani who” these days? Me, I’m going to stock up on memory tabs because I don’t fancy someone rolling up a 500-rupee note from my hard-earned tax money to snort coke.