Tharoor-Sunanda reception: PM skips, wife blesses

A large number of political leaders, diplomats and others attended a wedding reception hosted by Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor and his new wife Sunanda Pushkar here Friday.

New Delhi: Shashi Tharoor may have lost his ministerial job, but he has not fallen out of favor with the Prime Minister. Gursharan Kaur, Manmohan Singh’s spouse, was among those who came to wish Tharoor and his wife Sunanda Pushkar good luck on their marriage, the third for both, at a power-packed reception Friday night.

All roads virtually led to the India habitat Centre as the capital’s poweratti and glitterati trooped in to felicitate the couple. Tharoor married Dubai-based Pushkar in his ancestral home in Kerala Aug 22.

Tharoor looked winsome in a designer cream sherwani and Pushkar glowed in a shell pink chiffon sari with exquisite bead work as they shook hands, smiled and posed for photographs with guests.

Gursharan Kaur chatted with the newly-wed couple, who profusely thanked her for taking time out on a soggy evening for their wedding reception.

The prime minister, who inducted Tharoor in his cabinet as a junior foreign minister, could not come as he did not want to create a security nightmare, sources said. Gursharan Kaur’s presence sparked speculation that Tharoor could stage a second coming when the next cabinet reshuffle takes place.

Vice President Hamid Ansari and many Cabinet ministers braved the gloomy weather to make an appearance. Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Minister for Non-Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah, Corporate Affairs Minister Salman Khursheed and Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad were among those who came with flowers, gifts and good wishes.

Across the political divide, BJP leaders L.K. Advani and Arun Jaitley also made an appearance. Clearly Tharoor’s appeal cuts across party lines. The BJP had joined the opposition clamour for Tharoor’s resignation as minister of state for external affairs when reports surfaced linking him and his then "friend" Pushkar to manipulation of the Kochi Indian Premier League franchise.

Virtually the entire foreign office turned out in full regalia. Ambassadors, writers, media mavens, socialites, including cultural impresario Romi Chopra and Chetan Seth famous for his cigar parties, added that extra dash of glamour to an unpretentious low key reception.

The decoration in the Silver Oak hall was minimally elegant, with white flowers competing with the pink rose petals in Pushkar’s hair. Kerala delicacies competed with the standard North Indian dishes like chicken malai tikka and roast mutton on the menu.

There was nothing exotic for dessert either: kulfi, ice-cream and jalebis, take your pick. Those looking for an alcoholic high had to do with soft drinks, sherbets and jal jeera - and the high of being at the capital’s most talked about reception.

In his e-mail wedding invite, Tharoor, also a famed novelist, had invited select guests, seeking their blessings. "I have lived through a great deal of unrest in the last couple of years, and the prospect of being able to have a real home at last, with a woman I love and wish I had met many years ago, will only strengthen me in facing the challenges of public service that lie ahead." The 54-year-old Tharoor, it seems, has become lucky the third time around.

This was the couple`s third reception after those at Thiruvananthapuram and Dubai, where Pushkar, a Kashmiri is based. Tharoor is a first time Congress Lok Sabha MP from Thiruvananthapuram. A former career diplomat, he, however, lost out in the race for the UN secretary general`s post.