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Capital Buzz / Virendra Kapoor

A foreign affairs capsule

Inder Kumar Gujral The privatisation bug has bitten the external affairs ministry too. And thereby hangs a tale. Foreign Minister Inder Kumar Gujral (left) proposed recently that a compendium of all agreements, protocols and treaties that India has signed since Independence should be published.

The 300-odd collection of minor and major treaties, Gujral believes, could run into two or three volumes. It would be comprehensive enough to provide the necessary historic, political and economic background for serious scholars of Indian foreign policy to research the subject.

Since most members of the Cabinet do not bother about these matters, the issue was joined by one of the few intellectually sharp members of the Deve Gowda government. Chaturnan Mishra, the agriculture minister, wondered if the publication would not jeopardise official secrecy. When told that the foreign ministry would vet all data before publication, the CPI veteran was reassured. But only for a while.

Gujral said the job of publishing the compendium would be assigned to a private organisation. That raised Mishra's hackles again. He countered that his ministry had no funds whereas the private publisher would do the jobgratis and make some money for himself while giving the ministry a certain number of copies free of cost.

Mishra was adamant but Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda clinched the issue, saying, "Here we have opened our skies to foreigners and you object to our treaties being published by Indian parties."

The work on the compendium is to begin soon.

Degree or diploma

Shankar Dayal Sharma PresidentShankar Dayal Sharma (right)often releases books at simple ceremonies at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Last week he formally released a compendium on Madhya Pradesh, his home state, which among other things contains an exhaustive who's who of the state's political arena.

Human nature being what it is, Sharma was drawn to his own resume. And as he read through the entry against his name he got angrier and angrier. "Whoever compiled the volume does not know the difference between a degree or a diploma," said a miffed Sharma. There were several other mistakes. "And couldn't the volume be brought out in Hindi now that the country is celebrating Hindi diwas(day)?" he asked.

The publisher mumbled a weak defence but volunteered the information that Dr Sharma's resume was issued by his secretariat. The President cooled down a bit but still did not believe that his office could make such a mistake. Later, the publisher wondered if the real cause of Dr Sharma's ire was his being listed in alphabetical order which meant that he figured after a host of sundry politicians from the state.

'Ghoda' nee Gowda

Trust Maneka Gandhi to ask questions about horses. The other day Defence Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav (left) was flummoxed to find that the Speaker had admitted a starred question by the green queen on the number of horses in the defence services, their longevity and the manner of disposal of old and unfit horses.

Yadav, who normally has difficulty comprehending anything that does not pertain to the caste equations in UP, was at a loss to understand what Gandhi stood to gain by asking all these 'useless' questions. A senior army officer sent to brief him complicated matters further. For if Yadav's English was bad, his briefing officer's Hindi was terrible. Even Yadav could not help bursting out into loud laughter when the officer pronounced 'Ghoda' as 'Gowda'.

In spite of the officer trying his best, he could not get his 'Ghoda' right. For him it was still 'Gowda' in Hindi and a horse in English.

Leaking like a sieve

Joginder Singh There is much consternation at the highest level in the Deve Gowda government at the style of Joginder Singh, (right) head of the Central Bureau of Investigation. He was gently told by the prime minister to steer clear of the media, but it seems he cannot shun publicity.

Last week when a newspaper reported that a decision had been taken to make former prime minister P V Narasimha Rao a co-accused in the St Kitts forgery case, Deve Gowda was miffed. The decision was known only to half a dozen people. The needle of suspicion pointed to Singh as the source of the leak till someone pointed out that the culprit was a senior finance ministry official who loves to keep the rich and the famous happy. The official had earned notoriety in the seventies as an aide to a controversial Congress minister.

Tussle over super sleuth

Although he is defence minister, Mulayam Singh Yadav has succeeded in placing some of his favourite UP cadre officials in key positions in several ministries. Amar Singh, the high-flying fixer who is his quest for legitimacy has become general secretary of Yadav's Samajwadi Party, has emerged as the one-man placement agency for senior government officials.

Soon after Deve Gowda became prime minister, the Yadav-Singh duo managed to post the former director-general of UP police, C S Mathur as a special secretary in the home ministry.

Indrajit Gupta Now the duo wants Mathur to head the sensitive Intelligence Bureau. Abhijit Mitra is officiating as IB director following the summary removal of D C Pathak at Yadav's behest.

Home MinisterIndrajit Gupta (left) is in favour of continuing Mitra as the IB chief. The Yadav-Singh duo, some in the IB argue, is keen to induct Mathur as director, IB, for that would help them sort out the dossiers the agency has built up against them.

Rao, courts and Deve Gowda

H D Deve Gowda A piquant situation has arisen for Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda (right) because of the judicial focus on political wrong-doing. He is at a loss to figure out how to deflect the judicial onslaught on Narasimha Rao.

Recently when senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders met Deve Gowda in connection with the Gujarat stalemate, the prime minister mentioned his dilemma. Commiserating with BJP president Lal Kishinchand Advanifor the court order denying his plea for the dismissal of hawala charges against him, Deve Gowda suggested that something should be done to put an early end to judicial activism.

Both Advani and Atal Bihari Vajpayee stoutly refused any suggestion to curb the judiciary in any way. It was suggested that all other political parties are keen to rein in the judiciary. But the BJP leaders insisted that they would not be a party to any move to clip the wings of the judiciary.

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