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Capital Buzz/Virendra Kapoor

Deve Gowda's instant solutions

H D Deve Gowda Think before you leap is one adage which humble farmer H D Deve Gowda does not seem to have heard of.

His propensity to speak first and regret later has often landed the United Front government in trouble and exposed its inner contradictions to the world at large.

The prime minister was so carried away by the large crowd at the public meeting on his recent day-long visit to Rajasthan that he instantaneously announced the extension of the Mandal reservations to the jats as well. At least that is what the jats were given to understand when Deve Gowda promised a new commission to consider the demand for their inclusion in the reservation list.

It is a different matter that Deve Gowda's ministerial colleagues took no time to reject his proposal.

Led by Defence Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav and Industry Minister Murasoli Maran, the Cabinet shot down the move to distribute the Mandal cake to more and more castes. The result: The jats and their leaders like Ajit Singh are hopping mad with the prime minister.

Speak first, think later

The prime minister was made to eat humble pie again a few days ago. He mooted the proposal to have at least two members of his ministerial team elected to the Rajya Sabha from the newly- constituted Jammu and Kashmir assembly where there were four vacancies to the Upper House.

Since Welfare Minister Balwant Singh Ramoowalia and Minister of State for Planning and Science and Technology Yoginder K Alagh had to be found seats in the Upper House before the expiry of the six-month period, Deve Gowda broached the subject with J&K Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah.

Abdullah was neither in a position to say no nor did he have the political savvy to think through the implications of gifting `outsiders' parliamentary seats from his state. It was left to a CPI delegation to make Deve Gowda realise the danger fraught in his off-the-cuff proposal.

Ticking off the prime minister, the CPI leaders told him that Alagh and Ramoowalia's election from J&K could be exploited by the secessionists."The anti-India elements will see in it a confirmation of their charge that the assembly is a creature of New Delhi, a rubber stamp," the CPI delegation said.

Mercifully for Deve Gowda, Mulayam Singh Yadav agreed to sponsor Ramoowalia's election from UP and Shankarsinh Vaghela Alagh's from Gujarat.

Another Deve Gowda gaffe

When newspapers splashed photographs of the unusually large contingent of relatives that accompanied him on his first foreign visit as prime minister, Deve Gowda, in a fit of rage, asserted that he would bear all the expenses incurred by members of his family.`Every paisa for their visit will be paid by me,' he told reporters accompanying him on his visit to the G-15 summit in Harare.

The Deve Gowda-14 chartered a private plane to visit Sun City in South Africa. The charges for hiring the aircraft were paid by the Deve Gowda family. But there still remains the little matter of reimbursing to the Government of India the cost of flying first class 14 members of the prime minister's family to Harare and back.

At the rate of Rs 66,000 per person for a first class ticket, the bill for flying Deve Gowda's family comes to nearly Rs 1 million. The prime minister is yet to deposit the sum with the treasury despite his claim to pay every penny to the government.

The same old CBI

Satish Sharma Despite several directives from the law courts, the Central Bureau of Investigation cannot help taking sides in order to please its political masters. In the JMM MPs bribery case, investigations zeroed in on the names of five businessmen who paid Rs 150 million to then petroleum minister Satish Sharma for trading in honourable members.

At least one industrial house publicly denied that it paid money to Sharma to buy MPs. Instead of pursuing its investigations to locate the source of funds given to Sharma, the CBI, taking the said denial as gospel truth, has abandoned its inquiries into the controversial industrial group.

However, the CBI is vigorously pursuing investigations into two industrial houses who are known not to be particularly close to the Deve Gowda government.

The industrial house on whose plane Deve Gowda, then the prime minister-designate, flew to Delhi from Bangalore, contributed the largest amount to Sharma's kitty. But the CBI is showing no inclination to probe the matter. Incidentally, the two other industrialists being investigated are not on the best of terms with the high-profile chairman of the controversial industrial group.

Hegde's desperation

Ramakrishna Hegde is at a loose end. Frustrated at his increasing irrelevance even in his home state, Karnataka, Hegde has been knocking at the Congress door for re-admission, but in vain.

Ramakrishna Hegde So far, Congress chief Sitaram Kesri, who has let in known Narasimha Rao-baiters, seems to take no notice of Hegde's appeals. Hegde has been sending messages to Kesri through emissaries that he should be allowed to rejoin the Congress which he left after the party split in 1969.

Kesri is aware that he will annoy both Sonia Gandhi and the prime minister if he admits Hegde into the Congress. Whereas he would only be delighted to needle Deve Gowda by throwing the political lifeline to his arch foe from Karnataka, it is the fear of Sonia which prevents Kesri from saving Hegde from political oblivion.

Hegde has not given up hope. He routinely seeks out Congressmen close to Kesri to use them as a bridge for his re-entry into the party.

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