Jagat-Andaleeb link to become permanent


Chail (Himachal Pradesh) : When former external affairs minister K. Natwar Singh's son Jagat Singh Saturday ties the knot here with Somaya Sehgal, an alleged link in the oil-for-food scam will turn into a "relationship".

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Somaya is the sister of New Delhi-based businessman Andaleeb Sehgal whose name figured prominently in the pay-offs in the oil-for-food scandal in Iraq. She and Jagat have been friends for some years.

Natwar was accused of getting Andaleeb the contract in the oil-for-food programme using his close relations with then Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.

The ceremonial rituals of the couple are likely to be held at the imposing Chail Palace hotel run by the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corp (HPTDC), over 110 km from Chandigarh.

The wedding date 07-07-07 has been chosen as an auspicious day. The marriage will be solemnized at 7 p.m.

This is the second marriage for both the bride and the groom. Jagat's first wife committed suicide a few years ago by jumping from the roof of a New Delhi five-star hotel.

The girl's family, including brother Andaleeb, has been putting up in the Chail Palace hotel since Thursday.

The groom's side, including Natwar Singh and Jagat Singh, are staying at the Tarika resort, which is an extension of a sprawling orchard at Dochi, nine kilometres from here, owned by the family of former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh.

Natwar Singh, who fell out with the Congress party after the oil-for-food scandal broke out and his name figured in the UN-sponsored Paul Volcker committee report, is the brother-in-law of Amarinder Singh – the scion of the royal family of Patiala. Amarinder's mother, Rajmata Mohinder Kaur, is hosting the wedding.

Andaleeb himself has a Himachal connection since he is married to the daughter of Vijendra Singh, the former ruler of the Nalagarh princely estate, 60 km from Chandigarh.

The high profile marriage is being kept a low-key affair by both families, with the ceremonies kept out of bounds for media and non-invitees.

"Hotel staff at the hotel has also been instructed not to reveal anything to anyone," a hotel official told IANS.

Incidentally, none of Natwar Singh's political 'friends' from either Himachal or neighbouring Punjab are likely to attend the wedding given his frozen relationship with Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

"I don't think any senior Congress leaders or ministers, some of whom know Natwar personally, are likely to attend the wedding," a state minister told IANS on condition of anonymity.