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Politicians' long awaited New Year 'break'

December 31, 2009 23:17 IST
Its that time of the year again when the holiday season hits one and all. But more than others, it is the political class that needs 'a break'; having worked hard to first create problems -- and then to resolve them.

While Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh will be in Delhi to welcome the New Year, Congress President Sonia Gandhi appears to have opted to leave the cold of Delhi this year around.

Sources say that Sonia Gandhi, who is a serious patient of asthma and whose condition worsens in the winter months, has left to ring in the New Year amongst the warmth, the sun and sand of Goa, though officially the Congress is unwilling to give out any information simply on the plea that they have no knowledge of her programme. Her mother is accompanying her in the holiday trip.

Her daughter Priyanka has also gone to Goa to enjoy the sunshine and the beach, with her two kids and husband Robert.

All India Congress Committee General Secretary Rahul Gandhi, who is known to be fond of taking holidays on and off, left a few days ago for Jaisalmer in Rajasthan -- the beautiful desert land. He did not even attend the December 28 function held by the AICC to lay the foundation stone of the new party office and to kickstart the celebrations of the Indian National Congress completing 125 years of its existence next year.

Rahul is expected to join mother and grandma in Goa, later.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit, probably stressed out by the preparations for the Commonwealth Games, has also headed towards Rajasthan. She is reported to have gone to stay at a friend's resort near Ranthambore in Sawai Madhopur, and would be back only by the beginning of the new year.

While Rajasthan was once the most popular destination for politicians, the ground has shifted, and now it is Goa where celebrities and politicians, not to mention the best of Bollywood, like to take out a few days to unwind.

Minister for Corporate Affairs Salman Khurshid is headed for Goa where he will spend the New Year, after which he will proceed to Kerala on some official business. Salman has a house in the land of beaches and often takes time out to 'chill' there.

Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, also decided to leave the cold of Delhi and flew off to Goa with his wife, a known singer, who has cut some records also.

And of course there is Union Commerce Minister Anand Sharma who also has gone to Goa. He arrived late at the Delhi airport, tried to browbeat the airline to take him along, and when they refused to delay their flight for him, had to cool his heels at the airport and take the next flight to Mumbai and then connect to Goa.

Anand Sharma had been known to throw his weight around at the airport even when he was minister of state for external affairs, and now that he is in the cabinet, his 'weight' must have increased further.

The current MOS External Affairs Shashi Tharoor was of course vacationing in Rajasthan from where he tweeted his way to controversy again, but he has now returned to the capital to explain to his 'boss,' -- Union External Affairs Minister S M Krishna -- why he has been tweeting.

Kingfisher's Vijay Mallya, who has a huge bungalow in Goa, throws one of the most lavish parties on the New Year's eve and there are many who will fly down specially to attend it; like his good friend and Rajiv Shukla, who flew off in a special plane to Goa, even as senior Union ministers are travelling in commercial flights, and that too, in this age of 'austerity,' in economy class.

The Congress president's political secretary Ahmed Patel, who is not known to go off on lavish holidays unlike many others in the Union cabinet, is staying back in the capital to hold the fort, as it were in the absence of the Congress supremo. For company he has three other general secretaries Motilal Vora, Janardhan Dwivedi and Hari Prasad. Ahmed bhai has just returned from a long Haj visit.

But not everyone likes to tread the beaten track. There are some who think 'out of the box' and this is reflected in their holidays too.

One such minister is Kapil Sibal, who has had one of the best and the most productive years in terms of work as the Union human resources and development minister. The educational reforms unleashed by him were certainly long overdue and now he has gone to Beirut in Lebanon with wife Promilla, to unwind and reflect on all the new ideas that are to be generated in the coming year.

Both the corridors of the Congress party and the government are wearing a deserted look, and would only be active in the 'New Year' now.

Renu Mittal in New Delhi