The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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A Bachchan looks up Sonia
- Ramola re-establishes contact with 10 Janpath

March 14: Ramola Bachchan, the estranged wife of Amitabh Bachchan's brother Ajitabh, has renewed her ties with Sonia Gandhi and intends to settle down in New Delhi.

Sonia recently made up with another old friend, Nina Singh, wife of Rajiv Gandhi's Doon School buddy Arun Singh. Nina returned to the Nehru-Gandhi household 18 years after Rajiv and Arun fell out during the height of the Bofors controversy.

The meeting between Sonia and Ramola has left many wondering whether she is planning to enter politics.

Speaking to The Telegraph from London, Ramola confirmed her meeting with Sonia and said she was looking forward to a 'homecoming'.

Without detailing what transpired between her and Sonia, Ramola said: 'I have been maintaining family ties that date back to Jawaharlal Nehru-Harivanshrai Bachchan days.'

She, however, declined to comment on the possibility of joining politics, saying: 'The idea of shifting to India is purely personal.'

However, the London social circuit is agog with rumours that Ramola, an Indian passport holder, has kept an eye on politics.

If Ramola opts to associate herself with the Congress, there will be a Bachchan bahu each on either side of the political divide. Her sister-in-law Jaya Bachchan, is a Samajwadi Party MP and a vocal critic of Sonia.

Jaya's comments against Sonia at an election meeting had drawn a sharp repartee from Rahul Gandhi, prompting Amitabh to issue a public statement that frowned on the spat but referred to the Gandhis as 'rulers' and the actor's family as 'rank commoners'.

Sources familiar with developments at 10 Janpath, too, confirmed the Sonia-Ramola meeting, hinting at the possibility of rapprochement with one branch of the Bachchan family.

Sources said the recent war of words had upset Sonia as it came from a person who was her 'first friend' in India when she landed at Palam airport on a foggy morning of January 13, 1968. She stayed with the Bachchans till February 25 when her marriage took place on the back lawns of 1, Safdarjung Road, New Delhi, after a brief mehendi ceremony at the Bachchans.

Ramola, a party animal, is famous for winning friends. Last year, she won London's Asian of the Year Award for 2004, joining the league of Lord Swraj Paul, Baroness Shreela Flather and Labour leader Keith Vaz.

The Calcutta-born Ramola, 58, is a former air stewardess, a TV presenter and a successful fundraiser for several organisations, including the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation headed by Sonia.

It was in Calcutta that she came in contact with 'Amit', then a shipping executive who later introduced her to his younger sibling Ajitabh. Ramola has pleasant memories of the days she spent in Calcutta with Amitabh and Ajitabh.

In an interview, she had recalled: 'My friendship with Amitabh goes back to before he or I got married and even before I met Ajitabh. Amitabh was working in Calcutta in his pre-film days. We moved in the same circle and were very good friends. It was through him that I met Ajitabh.'

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