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Capital Buzz / Virendra Kapoor

Chandra Swami's fan following

Chandra Swami 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 bail.

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

Kishan Lal Chugh 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 for Chugh.

The Hothouse Effect

Sukh Ram 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

Sahib Singh Verma 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.

Naresh Gaur, 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 him.

In Gujarat too Advani had no time for Shankarsinh Vaghela. And look what happened.

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