As a storm is brewing in India over the wealth of Priyanka Gandhi and her husband Robert Vadra, there is a parallel in the U.S. too. Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, are coming under scrutiny from the media and the public for the preferential treatment they get from President Donald Trump.
The recent Trump-Xi Jinpeng summit may have been a flop show, but what was on display was the disdain the U.S. President had for nepotism-free and ethical values-based governance.
Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka and Kushner took centrestage with the Xi entourage, as seen from television frames during and after the summit. Amid the ubiquitous fake news misinformation campaigns, the old WYSWYG (What You See is What You Get) culture can be counted upon as visual evidence of the clout they wield.
The two have emerged as the two most powerful senior advisers to the US President, with both having an official role in the White House. Their services, though, don’t cost a penny for the White House as while they enjoy all the privileges that come with their roles they are not among its paid staff. They hold no-salary jobs but with political clout none else in Trump’s governance team can match.
Priyanka and Ivanka Retain Paternal Surnames
The Ivanka-Kushner pair instantly brings up the example of Priyanka Gandhi and Robert Rajinder Vadra. Both Ivanka and Priyanka retain their paternal surnames. Whether that is because of any streak of feminism in them or because it gives them wider appeal is not my business.
But I must acknowledge it is a poor comparison as pretty Ivanka and handsome Kushner are a charming couple. Priyanka is just as beautiful and graceful as Ivanka, with both having the ability to dazzle audiences with their good looks.
Where it all goes to the gutters is when Robert Vadra, with his coarse looks and abrasive behaviour, is brought into the mix in what can be an insult to Kushner, a Jew, who is all elegance and sophistication, even humility and politeness.
Gallant and Gentle
Per a report in The New York Times, which seldom hides its anti-Trump stance, at a recent National Security Council meeting, when Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, walked into the room there were no open chairs and was headed to the backbenches. But Mr Kushner is said to have gallantly offered his seat to the General.
However, good looks, a polite demeanour and political correctness form just one side of the spectrum. On the other, he is s a smooth operator. Also, as this report in The Washington Post states, Mr Kushner is short of role models as his father had served jail sentences for tax evasion and his father-in-law (Mr Trump) had declared four business bankruptcies.
Vadra’s Questionable Land Deals and “Mango people in banana republic” Comment
As for the family of Mr Vadra, there is not much to bring up, except that they had moved to India from Pakistan with not much education, running a small handicrafts business in Moradabad. His father had killed himself in 2009 and there had been a few other unnatural deaths in the family prior to that.
During the Congress rule, known for its corrupt ways, Mr Vadra is said to have amassed massive wealth through questionable land deals, leveraging his Priyanka and Sonia Gandhi connection. When public protests were mounting against corruption under the Congress regime, Mr Vadra landed the party in further trouble with his Facebook post “Mango people in banana republic.”
Ivanka Helps Build Bridges with China
The American media have been going hammer and tongs against the Trump regime, pointing out the ethical issues involved in the prominence given to his daughter and son-in-law.
But he just does not care, repeatedly changing his stand on global issues and counting on Ivanka and Kushner to be his saviour. For instance, the couple and their five-year-old daughter Arabella have an adoring following in China. Arabella’s recital in Mandarin that Ivanka released online in February for the Chinese New Year has taken the country by storm. That’s a nice testament to their business acumen.
Those in India must be thankful to the Congress for not imposing Robert Vadra on the country during the 10 years when Dr Manmohan Singh was the Prime Minister. Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi are rooted in politics, growing up in a family whose members dedicated their lives to the country.
Rajiv, A Reluctant PM
India has seen three Prime Ministers from this family – Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. They were all strong Prime Ministers, but the dynasty could have ended there. In fact, it could have ended with Indira Gandhi but her assassination pushed son Rajiv to the hot seat. A reluctant PM, he himself was assassinated in Tamil Nadu because of his misadventure in Sri Lanka.
Rahul is often unfairly trolled online with the BJP leaders and their sympathisers also revelling in calling him names. He has not made any aggressive push into politics and has shown no greed either in grabbing power.
Rather he was too slow and I do not think he will ever become a Prime Minister ever as all Indians now want is a Hindu Rashtra and go down the path of failed theocratic countries such as Pakistan.
Rahul, is just not cut for politics and the Congress has leaders of a very high calibre. If he had stayed out and if Vadra had not been allowed to amass wealth, the Congress could have given the BJP and Narendra Modi a tough fight at the hustings. The party had the opportunity to save itself from extinction but now it appears inevitable!
G Joslin Vethakumar