“PRIME MINISTER’S DAUGHTER” (Political Crime Thriller) — from the stable of Fingerprint Publishing: Releasing in August, 2015. Here’s an extract….
The announcement came at five-thirty. The Press Conference was held on the lawns of the PM’s Residence-cum-Office complex at 7, Race Course Road, New Delhi. Jagat held his breath as Press Secretary-cum-Media Advisor to the Prime Minister, Praveen Sachdev, did a quick rundown of the facts: Earlier that day, in the morning hours to be precise, Officer-on-Special-Duty (OSD) in the PMO, Madhumita Das, had been found dead in her office in the South Block of the Secretariat Building on New Delhi’s Raisina Hill, of a heart attack caused by coronary artery disease. As he said the words, Jagat once again started breathing. Keeping the explanation short and sweet, Praveen Sachdev then turned the proceedings over to Dr. Amit Bansal, a heart specialist from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, who explained that Madhumita Das had a hysterectomy a few years ago, which made her prematurely experience menopause. Combine the drop in estrogen with heavy smoking, and you had a quick recipe for a heart attack.
Before any of the assembled media persons could ask any questions, the Prime Minister himself came out to do the regrets. It was a masterstroke by the Media Office, and Jagat gave a mental salute in appreciation. Forget the hows and whys, let’s get to the emotion. Jagat could practically taste the subtext: ‘Our leader. A man who takes care of his own’.
Jagat remembered that the General Elections were due not many months later. The image consultants were already at work.
As the Prime Minister grasped the podium with two tight fists, Jagat couldn’t help but see the resemblance to Tanuja. The lean frame. The piercing eyes. The reckless jaw. Always in control. Before he opened his mouth, everybody knew what was going to come out: “It’s a dark day; she’ll be sorely missed; our prayers go out to her family.” Nothing suspicious; nothing to worry about. He topped it all off with a quick brush of his eye – he was not crying, but it was just enough to make the people of India think that if he had a moment to himself, he might.
From Praveen Sachdev, to the doctor, to the Prime Minister, they all did what they specialized in. Jagat noted with a sense of relief that there was no mention of an investigation. Of course, the family had requested an autopsy, but Praveen Sachdev spun it as a hope to help others with similar ailments. It was a brilliant touch. Jagat also realized from the announcements that, to be on the safe side, the autopsy had been set for Sunday, which meant it wouldn’t be the topic of the weekend talk shows, and if the results showed it was a murder, it would be too late for the magazines to make it a cover story. For at least two days, he was safe.
Dinnertime came and went, and Jagat still didn’t move from the sofa in front of the TV. His stomach was screaming, but he still couldn’t stop flipping through channels. He had to be sure. He needed to know no one was using those words: SUSPICION. FOUL PLAY. MURDER.
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