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Loyalty pays: Cong ticket for cook's son, SPG commando

Source: PTI
November 26, 2007 18:47 IST
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They say 'The way to a man's heart is through his stomach.' Well the saying seems to have paid off for a cook with the Gandhi-Nehru family for over three decades.

His son Prakash Chand Karad has bagged the Congress ticket for Arki assembly constituency in Solan district, emerging as a dark horse against three-time legislator and Himachal Pradesh Deputy Speaker Dharampal Thakur.

Padam Ram of Banjan village in the district served as a cook first with late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, her son Rajiv Gandhi and later with Sonia Gandhi while his father supplied food items to the family since the time of first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

He was employed with the external affairs ministry and posted as a cook in the Nehru-Gandhi family since 1970. He retired five years ago but kept visiting 10, Janpath in New Delhi and got the ticket as the reward for loyalty.

Also figuring in the Congress list of 65 candidates, announced on Sunday, is Nand Lal -- a former Special Protection Group commando attached with Sonia -- who got nominated from Rampur (SC) seat instead of Horticulture Minister and six-time legislator Singhi Ram.

An elated Padam Ram told PTI over the phone from Solan: "Even my father late Jhirku Ram had served as store-man at the residence of Nehruji. He supplied food items to the family for 35 years before I joined as the family cook during Indiraji's time."

He thanked the Gandhis for providing his son the opportunity to serve the Congress while his 37-year-old son expressed gratitude for getting a chance to fulfill his father's dream.

Karad, however, denied para-dropping into politics. "I have been an active member of the Congress in Solan since 1995, served in the district SC/ST cell of the party, as director of the Khadi board and vice-chairman of the Sports Council," he said.

Thakur, who won the Arki seat in 1993, 1998 and 2003, is meanwhile contemplating entering the fray as an independent and some local Congress leaders are peeved over the party ticket being given to a novice.

The Deputy Speaker's son and Solan district Youth Congress general secretary Sanjay Thakur said his father was under 'pressure' from party workers and would file his nomination from Arki on Tuesday. Some Congress leaders in the district were also planning to resign, he claimed.

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