Capital Buzz/Virendra Kapoor
A sleepy PM
The late chief executive councillor of Delhi, Radha Raman, was
known to snooze in the midst of official meetings. He caused much
consternation and merriment in the Delhi administration by sleeping
through meetings and, on waking up, insisting that those present
resume from the moment where he had dozed off. This way half-hour
meetings would extend to two or more hours.
Well, Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda
is beginning to emulate the late Raman. The other day, four Congress leaders
from Punjab, including former minister of state for external affairs
R L Bhatia, former minister of state for tourism
Sukhbans Kaur (left) and Rajya Sabha member
Surinder Singhla, went to meet Deve Gowda in his office at
Parliament House about the neglect of their state by successive federal governments.
He welcomed them profusely but was surprisingly at sea about their
identities. This was a strange lapse on the part of his office.
Even if Deve Gowda did not know who Bhatia or Bhinder or Singhla were,
he ought to have been fully briefed about them before the meeting.
After the introductions, when they began to talk business, the
prime minister dozed off. When he came to, he mentioned how fed
up he already was about the petty bickerings he had to put up
with in the Cabinet meetings between Mulayam Singh Yadav
(right) and his ministers on the one side and Laloo Yadav's
ministers on the other. And, as the Congress leaders began to plead for a new railway
line in Punjab, the prime minister again shut his eyes and fell
silent a la Radha Raman for long moments.
Several others, including senior government officials, have come
back frustrated after their meeting with a snoozing and
snoring prime minister in recent days.
Chandra Swami's latest gambit
The threat by Chandra Swami's lawyer,
Ashok Arora, to expose politicians and to
"cleanse the system" has had the desired effect, at least in one
expected quarter. The beleaguered Congress president, P V Narasimha Rao, (right) moved fast to quell the challenge which could land him in big
trouble. A proprietor-editor of a Hindi newspaper was sent as an emissary to quieten
What transpired at the meeting is not known, but the emissary
was confident that the latter got the message. The message being,
Chandra Swami would have to "spell the beans" at his own
cost since Rao was big enough to protect himself.
Minister for Water Resources Janeshwar Misra
had reason to be confused. No sooner did the sensitive matter of water-sharing
come up in question hour than a large number of MPs from Tamil
Nadu were on their feet, gesticulating and shouting in English.
They demanded that the judgment of the Cauvery water tribunal
be implemented in toto and sought to know why a new chairman for
the tribunal had not been appointed. A few members muttered angrily
in Tamil. Some even remarked that whether or not the ruling alliance
lasted, their first priority was to get irrigation water for Tamil
Nadu. Curiously, the show of anger by the MPs was being orchestrated
by Misra's ministerial colleague.
On cue from the minister, who belonged to the DMK, his party members
alternately raised the roof and fell silent. The MPs' noisy performance
left Misra flabbergasted. He was at a loss as to the reason for
their sudden anger and equally sudden silence. In an aside, he
wondered what "these dhotiwallahs wanted".
Later, in the central hall of Parliament, he tried to mollify
the Tamil Nadu contingent. And asked more than one of his tormentors
whether he belonged to "Moopanar's (left)
party" only to be told no. Finally, one MP came to Misra's rescue. And said that
all of them were from the DMK. "You can recognise us from
our dhotis. We have a red and black border on them."
No TMC member was in the House that day as they were away in Tiruchi
to attend the party's first state conference.
A head for prayers
Somvati Amavasya on Monday, July 15, was observed by the
deeply religious President, Shankar Dayal Sharma (right)
with prayers in Rashtrapati Bhavan from 3.30 pm to 6 pm. The 70-year-old Andavan
Swamy from Sri Rangam was called in to bless the 76-year-old President,
who prostrated himself before the holy man.
As the prayer hall
echoed to the sound of taped bhajans, Sharma took off his cap
so that the feet of silver could be placed on his bare head. A
conch and wheel were placed on the president's shoulder as part
of the elaborate ritual, even as grains of rice dyed yellow were
thrown on him like confetti.
Afterwards the priests chanted shlokas,
both in Tamil and Sanskrit. Ostensibly the entire exercise was
meant to ensure Sharma's moksha (salvation) but if it also
helped him in getting a second term at Rashtrapati Bhavan,
it could well be the added bonus.
It pays to be dumb
Remember S Jaipal Reddy?(right)
The most visible face of the Janata Dal has, of late, disappeared from
public view, thanks to the dominant group in the Laloo Yadav-led party.
The man who did a commendable job, rooting for the Dal during the run-up to
the last election and a few weeks after that, has been completely sidelined. He
is no more the JD spokesman. That is why you don't hear memorable
one-liners such as this one about the expelled JD leader Ramakrishna
Hegde, "It will be a mistake to confuse manners with morals."
The last one heard was that Reddy might be accommodated as deputy
chairman of the planning commission.
United Front football
Opinion was divided in the Samajwadi Party on whether the new
U P governor,Romesh Bhandari, (left)
would protect the party's interests in the state. SP chief and
Defence Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav was persuaded by a couple of
Delhi-based fixers that Bhandari was an easy-going person amenable
to influence since he had a weakness for "all good things in life".
But Communications Minister Beni Prasad Verma
later convinced Yadav that Bhandari would be an "agent" of the BSP-Congress
combine. So the two protested to Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda against Bhandari's
appointment, but to no avail.
Meanwhile, the official order announcing
the appointment of Cabinet Secretary T S R Subramaniam in
Surinder Singh's place had also run into trouble. Yadav threatened
to quit the government if Subramaniam was given the coveted post.
The SP boss fears that Subramaniam, a brahmin whom he had removed
as UP chief secretary when he was the chief minister,
would be unfriendly towards him and his party.