Capital Buzz / Virendra Kapoor
Chandra Swami's fan following
Unless they get Chandra Swami out
of Tihar jail or sequester him from the rest of the
jail population, there is a danger of his creating a new
set of disciples among the assorted group of criminals in prison.
After the initial hostility, the jail
inmates and staff seem to get along just fine with Chandra
Swami. What seems to have endeared the tantrik to his fellow inmates is the advice
he offers them on worldly and otherworldly matters. He is generous with financial
assistance and lends the spiritual touch to
their dreary existence .
Ironically, even Sukh Ram, the man who as communications minister
licensed the advent of cellular phones in the country,
depended on Chandra Swami's handset to keep in touch with the
outside world during the short period he spent in the jug before securing
Chandra Swami complains bitterly about Rao's betrayal and
often tells fellow inmates that he is waiting for him to join
him in Tihar so that he can have it out with his former `disciple'.
He has also become a faith healer for the jail inmates and
spends long hours performing tantric rites.
The real face of swadeshi
The raids on ITC have had a strange effect on government-
owned financial institutions. Like everyone else who had
been taken in by the self-serving swadeshi versus videshi campaign
launched by the then ITC chairman, Kishan Lal Chugh when BAT Industries
wanted to replace him last year, the FIs find it difficult
to come to terms with the profusion of incriminating evidence against the company.
After the enforcement directorate's raids at the ITC offices,
Industrial Development Bank of India chairman S H Khan
was summoned by the finance ministry.
What transpired at Khan's meeting with Revenue Secretary
N K Singh is not known but a chastened Khan has
since been lobbying other financial institutions for devising a common strategy
to deal with the post-raids ITC. Senior FIs executives, we learn, are not amused
by Khan's belated concern for their opinion.
Among the financial institutions, IDBI
holds the largest chunk of ITC stock.
During the BAT-ITC face-off IDBI decided to go all
out in Chugh's favour without bothering to consult the other FIs. Khan, some said,
was so involved that he helped devise the extraordinary Rs 9 million retirement package
The Hothouse Effect
The central government was forced to clarify post haste
rumours in judicial and political circles that the tell-tale
diaries seized from former communications minister Sukh Ram's
home listed payoffs to at least two senior jurists.
The Sukh Ram diaries are, of course, far
more explosive than the Jain hawala diaries. The Jain diaries
only mentioned the outgo of funds. Sukh Ram's diaries trace the flow of funds
both ways. In cryptic detail he lists those who gave him money
and those to whom he in turn gave that money.
The rumour about the jurists started when the CBI failed to identify
two entries in the diaries. Politicians at the receiving end of judicial
activism were quick to spread the canard that the entries referred
to two wellknown jurists. Of course, there was no truth
in the rumour whatsoever, but such was its impact that the government was
compelled to deny what was just malicious gossip.
Rich Congressmen, poor party
Can Ahmed Patel,
the new treasurer of the Congress party, cope with the job which Sitaram Kesri held
for 17 long years with rare panache?
So far the reports from 24, Akbar
road, the Congress headquarters, are not very encouraging. Revolt is brewing
in the ranks about Patel's failure to cough
up the necessary funds.
Salaries and the upkeep of the Congress HQ costs Rs 700,000 a month. Party general secretaries
are also reimbursed the cost of the petrol they use for cars provided by the
party. After Patel's appointment, no funds have been forthcoming
for filling up these cars. The result: A couple of general secretaries now use taxis.
Ahmed is reluctant to reimburse even their taxi fare. There
is also talk of the party cars being withdrawn next month.
Rao loyalists interpret Ahmed's niggardliness differently.
They believe it is aimed at removing Devender Dwivedi and
B P Maurya, staunch Rao supporters, as
party general secretaries.
Creating more Vaghelas
All is not well with the Bharatiya Janata Party. Increasingly,
the `party with a difference' is aping the Congress. And paying
for it dearly in terms of its image. The BJP's Delhi unit is
divided down the line with one group supporting Chief Minister
Sahib Singh Verma and the other fiercely opposing him.
Half the BJP legislators want Verma removed. The other half believes he
is not chief minister material but they support him nonetheless because
they belong to the anti-Madan Lal Khurana faction.
Khurana was Delhi's chief minister before Verma took charge.
a youthful BJP legislator from Babbarpur constituency in East Delhi, has
for no fault of his become a victim of the factional warfare.
It started when Gaur protested against a municipal contractor's bills
for a desilting job in his constituency. The contractor was caught
by the Delhi government's vigilance department and an
inquiry ordered into jobs earlier undertaken by him for the Delhi municipality.
Since then Gaur has not had a moment's peace. The Verma faction has unleashed a campaign of calumny against him with the
aid of a senior BJP MP. Anonymous pamphlets were distributed
against Gaur in his constituency. A delegation of BJP leaders approached
the CBI and the local police to initiate cases against him.
Gaur pleaded his case before senior party leaders. When Delhi BJP chief, K M
Sahni sought the said MP's explanation the latter brushed him aside, saying
he was not answerable to him. Gaur has knocked at the door of party
president, Lal Kishinchand Advani, but the latter seems to have no time for
In Gujarat too Advani had no time for Shankarsinh Vaghela.
And look what happened.