Two scions of South Asia's best-known political dynasties were on public display yesterday, but in very different surroundings. One was dressed in a crisp shalwar kameez, feted by steady stream of parliamentarians and ministers – most more than twice his age – as he watched his father making a rare public appearance. The other appeared in front of an angry crowd who were baton-charged by police when he was arrested.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, 20, the son of the late Benazir Bhutto and Pakistan's President, Asif Ali Zardari, watched through his black Armani spectacles as his father made an address before both chambers of Pakistan's parliament. Generals bristling with medals, ambassadors and rows of rowdy parliamentarians were ignored as the young man was besieged by crowds both in and out of the building. "He's a Pakistani rock star," beamed one onlooker.
Meanwhile, Varun Gandhi, a great-grandson of India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, was arrested by police over an election campaign speech in which he apparently vowed to "cut the throats" of Muslims. Police fired in the air and baton-charged a crowd of at least 10,000 of his supporters as he was arrested in his constituency in Uttar Pradesh. "I am ready to go to jail. And I have come here to boost the morale of my people," 29-year-old Mr Gandhi told his supporters before his arrest. "I believe in whatever I have said."