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Sunanda Pushkar: A life and death under the media spotlight

Sunanda Pushkar: A life and death under the media spotlight

ShashiSunandaShe came as she went - suddenly. Sunanda Pushkar was a name we'd never heard of till three years ago, when suddenly she became the toast of the Delhi party circuit. She was seen in social soirees with Shashi Tharoor, and before anyone could ask who she was, the first controversy had erupted when Lalit Modi, the then IPL czar, questioned the ownership pattern of the Kochi IPL team. But by then, she was friends with almost everyone who mattered.

LIVE: Sunanda Pushkar's post-mortem done, funeral at 5:30 PM

From ministers to Bollywood stars, everyone knew Sunanda, said to be from Jammu, with an Army background. Many knew her as an entrepreneur. An article by Vrinda Gopinath in Outlook claimed that Sunanda's second husband, Sujith Menon — who was once the best friend of her first husband, Sanjay Raina — committed suicide after they split.

April 2010: At the time of the IPL controversy, Sunanda was the co-owner of Rendezvous Sports World, the consortium that bought the Kochi team, and it was alleged that Shashi Tharoor had used her as a shield for collecting Rs 70 crore and helping the Kochi owners get their IPL team, Kochi Tuskers. Sunanda finally gave up her stake, toitweesaying she was shocked that certain parties were questioning her credentials merely because she was a woman. Her statement read, "Given the deeply unpleasant publicity surrounding my involvement, I can no longer find the enthusiasm required to associate myself with any IPL activity in the foreseeable future."

August 2010: Even as the controversy raged on, Sunanda married Shashi. And the duo became a bright spot in Delhi's social circuit. When TOI met her in 2011, she said she was planning to help Tharoor campaign. But even then, when the media asked her for a byte on the IPL, she'd turned back to her friend, "All these people wanting to talk to me; I am so embarrassed, I am nervous about this." Still, the couple was seen at almost every event, chatting and laughing. Their PDA was the talk of town.

October 2012: One day came news from Kerala, specifically from Tharoor's constituency. Sunanda had apparently slapped a man at the Thiruvananthapuram airport because he allegedly misbehaved with her. According to reports, Tharoor and Sunanda had arrived at the airport, and were welcomed by Congress workers. The next thing we saw was TV channels beaming pictures of an angry Sunanda slapping a man in the crowd.

October 2012: Sunanda unwittingly found herself a trending twitter topic once again when Gujarat CM Narendra Modi took potshots at Tharoor's personal life, and said his wife was once his "50-crore-rupee girlfriend". Tharoor gallantly defended Sunanda. He retaliated, again on Twitter, "My wife is worth a lot more than your imaginary 50 crore. She is priceless. But you need2be able2love some1 2understand that."

May 2013: The first rumours of everything not being rosy in their marriage began to surface. Initially Tharoor and Sunanda still attended social events - but separately. And then came the absence - Tharoor still turned up for official events, but Sunanda was off the radar. Those who knew the couple well said they were spending time apart. But when TOI met Sunanda, she laughed it off with, "Oh, I was getting treated, my son was not well, and Shashi's got work to do."

January 2014: The twitter slugfest erupted in all its bitterness, and Sunanda found herself trending again for all the wrong reasons. And then came the reports that she could neither deny nor scoff at - of her being found dead.

Source: Times of India, ZeeNews

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