Capital Buzz/Virendra Kapoor
A matter of protocol
Unlike the Janata Dal where every MP considers himself a senior
leader, the regional outfits of the south are hierarchy conscious
and, therefore, far more disciplined than Laloo Yadav's
party. The party boss in the southern outfits towers head-and-shoulders
above everyone else.
DMK president and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi (right)
joked with two of his newly-inducted ministers of state in the
Deve Gowda government, T R Balu and N V N Somu,
that he now faced a dilemma as to how to address them in his correspondence
with their respective ministries of defence and petroleum. Both
DMK ministers were too overawed by their chief to respond to his
banter, which took place soon after the third round of swearing-in
of the Deve Gowda ministry.
But Kerala Chief Minister E K Nayanar had a suggestion. Karunanidhi
could address all his letters concerning matters about ministries
manned by DMK members to the prime minister and send a copy to
the ministers concerned. Nayanar said that, in that way, he would
also counter the possible charge that the DMK ministers at the
Centre were remote controlled by him from Madras.
The solution was okay but considering that the Tamil Nadu chief
minister was in the habit of writing half a dozen letters almost
daily to the central government, Deve Gowda may find time
for little else but to attend to Karunanidhi's demands.
Divide and rule
Two Indian Police Service officers have been appointed as special
secretaries in the home ministry to fill the breach left by V
K Jain who has finally been put to pasture after numerous
extensions in service.
N N Singh, a Bihar cadre IPS officer of the 1961 batch
is senior to V S Mathur, the U P cadre IPS officer of the
1962 batch. But it is Mathur who has been given the important
internal security portfolio, while Singh has been given such inconsequential
assignments as freedom fighters cell and national awards, etc.
What is more, Home Secretary K Padmanabiah always dispatches
files first to the junior special secretary for the simple reason
that he happens to be his batch mate.
The IPS cadres are unhappy at the flouting of the seniority principle.
In fact, the CBI chief Vijay Rama Rao (left) suggested to Singh
that he revert to his old duties at the CBI. But it is the IAS
guys who are thoroughly enjoying the breach in the IPS, in the
time-honoured British tradition that the art of administration
lay in following the divide-and-rule principle.
Blowing hot over cold drinks
Minister of State for Sports R D Athithan had a roomful
of visitors last week, including journalists aspiring to travel
to Atlanta for the Olympics coverage. He asked his secretary to
order cold drinks from the government canteen for all the visitors
present in the room.
Much to his chagrin, the minister's private secretary came back
crestfallen. The canteen manager had apparently quoted a government
rule which said that only Cabinet ministers were entitled to serve
cold drinks to their guests. The rules permit a minister of state
to order cold drinks at government expense only for a foreign
delegation, and that too for not more than a dozen persons.
Athithan was furious at the canteen's snub and ordered a round
of cold drinks at his own expense. He has vowed to have the irrational
A Nehruvian tale for Deve Gowda
The nation's hall of gossip (we refer to the central hall of Parliament),
fully bears witness to the multi-faceted woes of the 13-party
ruling coalition. Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda is naturally the butt
of much derisive talk, more from the members of the not-so-United
Front than others.
A senior Janata Dal leader, who found his ministerial ambitions
stymied, harked back to the Nehruvian times to illustrate Deve Gowda's
lack of stature. He told his small audience of politicos and scribes
with malicious relish about how the first prime minister of India
was fond of wearing a red rose on the lapel of his jacket.
It seems the gardener at Teen Murti, then the residence
of Jawaharlal Nehru, would present him a fresh rose every morning.
One day, he asked Panditji to get his son a peon's job.
Panditji mumbled something and the matter rested there
until the gardener began to pester him about his son's job every
morning, even as he presented him with a rose.
"As was bound to happen, Nehru displayed his famous short temper.
'Arre, bhai, mein tumarey bete ko chaprasi to nahin bana
sakta. Pradhan mantri ke nate, use mantri jaroor bana sakta hoon
(Look, I cannot make him a peon but, as prime minister, I can
certainly make him a minister).
The gardener, the story goes, got the message and stopped pestering
him. Even before the JD MP's audience had stopped laughing at
Nehru's wit, our ministerial aspirant delivered his punch line,
"But Deve Gowda is the only prime minister who cannot make anyone
a minister. That power has been usurped by Laloo, Mulayam,
Karunanidhi, Naidu... anyone but Deve Gowda."
A ministerial pool
Did K Karunakaran (right) build himself a swimming pool at his
official residence while he was the industries minister in the
Rao government? After a newspaper reported that he had
indeed built one at 9, Krishna Menon Marg, Karunakaran has been
at pains to pass it off as a 'small tub.'.
But inquiries reveal that the Cement Corporation of India, a public
sector unit under the administrative control of industries ministry,
spent Rs 1 million to make a swimming pool in the back lawn
of Karunakaran's house for his morning 'ablutions', as his aide
put it. The pool may not be Olympic-sized, but it is certainly
bigger than a small tub. Laid with glazed titles, it has of a
regular provision for fresh water and drainage.
It is commonplace for public sector units to provide for the comforts
of their ministers-in-charge.
Wealthy leaders, bankrupt party
A well-respected ad agency owner has been running from pillar
to post to recover his dues from the Congress party. The long-term
treasurer of the party, Sitaram Kesri, (left) pleads shortage
of funds as the reason for non-payment.
The party owes the said agency about Rs two million from the time
the late Rajiv Gandhi had personally approved the campaign
for the 1991 Lok Sabha election. Kesri had promised to pay after
the 1996 election. Following the party's rout, Kesri's excuse
remains unchanged: "Let us see after the next election."
Meanwhile, the adman has lost all hope of recovering his long-pending