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Dad game for poll but not Devyani

Mumbai, Jan. 14: Devyani Khobragade’s father confirmed today that he plans to contest the Lok Sabha election, but denied that she was joining politics.

A group of 50-odd Republican Party of India activists, waving party flags and shouting slogans against the US and Barack Obama, had welcomed Devyani with a bouquet and an RPI scarf when she returned to Mumbai with her father Uttam Khobragade.

“I am thankful to my city Mumbai for the love and support. I’m very happy to be back home but of course I’m missing my kids,” Devyani, 39, said, hands folded.

The IFS officer has had to return to India leaving behind her husband and young daughters after being indicted in a visa fraud case in the US.

From the airport, father and daughter left to pay homage at Chaityabhoomi, Babasaheb Ambedkar’s memorial at Shivaji Park, before heading home to Versova in the western suburbs.

Television images showing her wearing the blue-and-white RPI scarf sparked speculation whether Devyani, whose arrest in the US had triggered uproar in India, would foray into politics. The RPI activists had started gathering at the airport a good two hours before she arrived on the 4pm Indigo flight.

But Uttam Khobragade, a retired IAS officer, dismissed the speculation. “The presence of the RPI is natural as I am a Dr Ambedkar supporter. But even other parties had sent their representatives to welcome Devyani. Raj Thackeray had sent a partyman with a bouquet. The car which brought us to Chaityabhoomi belonged to a Congressman. Devyani has no plans to join politics, at least for the moment,” he told The Telegraph.

Khobragade, however, said he was keen on fighting the Lok Sabha polls. “The RPI had written to me inviting me to contest polls. I have decided that I will contest the Lok Sabha elections, but I have not yet decided which party and which constituency,” he said.

Asked if negotiations with the RPI were on, he said: “Look, the RPI is very close to me because I have been one of the founder members of the Dalit Panther movement. But I am yet to take a final decision.”

Asked if it was clear when Devyani could re-unite with her husband and children, he said: “It will take some time as her children are schooling there. Her husband is a professor of political philosophy and is a visiting professor in the US. He was earlier teaching in Delhi and then Rome.”

Help registration

The US said on Tuesday in-person registration of domestic workers of foreign diplomats would be mandatory in Washington, without making any reference to Devyani case.

An action plan for victims of human trafficking released by the White House, however, did not mention anything about such registration in New York.