Gandhis out to lunch with former family physician

Guests at the India International Centre's (IIC) Main Dining Hall were in for a surprise Thursday to find the entire Gandhi family - Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka - quietly having lunch with an old family friend without the usual trappings of security or hangers-on.

The Gandhis  were hosted there by Dr K.P. Mathur, the personal physician of late prime minister Indira Gandhi. According to informed sources, Mathur, now in his eighties, had invited the Gandhi family out to lunch and the family had readily accepted the invitation.

Mathur's relationship with the family goes back to the 1970s and he was present during the birth of both Rahul and Priyanka. He was the one who announced Mrs Gandhi's death at the hands of her Sikh bodyguards at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences on Oct 31, 1984.

She had been rushed there by Sonia Gandhi in a white Ambassador car after she was gunned down while walking to her next door office.

According to those in the know, the fact that the family agreed to go out for lunch with Mathur, instead of calling him to 10, Janpath, was a measure of the respect they had for Dr Mathur and his old association. 

While Sonia was dressed in a lime green kurta and salwar, Priyanka wore a printed cotton sari while Rahul wore his usual kurta pyjama.

Used as they are to the presence of important personalities in the premier cultural institution, there was not much commotion among either the lunch guests or staff over the presence of India's first family having a quiet day out.

Elite SPG guards, who usually form a ring around the Gandhis, were conspicuous by their absence and there was nothing unusual to suggest to people at the IIC that the Gandhi family was dining there.

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