Two hearts and a VVIP political wedding

George Joseph

New Delhi, March 23 (IANS) Their families like to call it a meeting of intimate hearts. But when Faisal Patel weds Zainub Nedous in the capital Friday, it will also be an alliance between two influential political families, one from Gujarat and another from Kashmir.

Faisal is the son of Ahmed Patel, who hails from Gujarat and is political secretary and right-hand man of Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Zainub belongs to Jammu and Kashmir's well-known Nedous family, to which union Minister Farooq Abdullah's mother Akbar Jehan belonged.

'We in the family wish Zainub and her fiance all the best. They will get the greetings of all Kashmiris,' Muzaffar Ahmad Shah, an uncle of Zainub, told IANS.

'We do not look for any politics in the marriage. Let it be a marriage of two initmate hearts from two distant places,' said Shah, who is also president of the Awami National Conference and son of former chief minister G.M. Shah and Khaleda Shah, sister of Farooq Abdullah.

The capital's political and social circles are abuzz with the Faisal-Zainub 'nikah' ceremony Friday and the reception Sunday. Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh are among those likely to attend the reception to be held at a bungalow on Aurangazeb Road.

A large number of Kashmiri VIPs, including Farooq Abdullah and his son and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah along with their families are likely attend the reception, a National Conference leaders told IANS. 'We are the special guests,' he added.

Thirty-year-old Faisal, an MBA from a foreign university, was in the news in 2009 when his name was proposed by local Congress comittees in Gujarat as a candidate for the Bharuch Lok Sabha seat.

Though reports mentioned Faisal as yet another 'son-rise', the move did not gain momentum as Ahmed Patel did not favour the son's immediate entry ino politics, Congress sources said.

Zainub is a communication officer in the Delhi office of the UNAIDS joint UN programme on HIV/AIDS. According to a former colleague of hers, the couple have known each other from their student days.

Zainub is the daughter of Omar Nedou, a Srinagar-based hotelier, whose family established the famous Nedous Hotel in the hill resort of Gulmarg 122 years ago.

Akbar Jehan was the daughter of Michael Harry Nedou, an Austro-Swiss settler who married a Kashmiri Gujjar girl Mirjan. Harry's father Michael Adam Nedou had founded the Gulmarg hotel and several other hotels in undivided India.

Shah said the Nedous family has old links with Gujarat. 'In fact, Michael Adams Nedous was basically an architect. He came from Europe to the subcontinent to build a palace for the Gujarat royal family. Then he made the Indian subcontinenet his field of action,' Shah recalled.

According to reports, Faisal will wear a sherwani designed by Tarun Tahilani and Zainub will wear a lehnga created by Rohit Bal.

A special Kashmir musical night will be organised on the eve of the 'nikah' here, Nedous family sources from Kashmir said.

However, Patel, who is well aware of the Gandhi family's disapproval of lavish display of wealth, is being cautious at every step about the function, sources said.

The invitation card for the reception mentions Patel's daughter and son-in-law as the hosts, they added.

The Congress party has drawn flak from the media for the recent expensive wedding of Delhi Congress leader Kanwar Singh Tanwar's son Lalit Tanwar to another party leader Sukhbir Singh Jaunapuria's daughter Yogita. Some reports had put the total expenses above Rsb500 crore ($100 million).

Congress insiders say Faisal's rise in the politics is only a matter of time.

'The moment the senior (Ahmed) Patel gives the nod, the junior (Faisal) Patel will emerge,' a Congress leader told IANS. 'Above all, Faisal is in the inner circle of Rahul Gandhi,' he added.

(George Joseph can be contacted at