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Capital Buzz/Virendra Kapoor

Hassles of an uncommon accused

P V Narasimha Rao The Deve Gowda government is in a tizzy over former Congress president Narasimha Rao's increasing discomfiture at the hands of the courts. Now that the former premier is scheduled to appear in the Tis Hazari courts in Delhi to answer charges in a cheating case, federal Cabinet Secretary T S R Subramaniam called a high-powered meeting on Monday, September 23, to ensure that there was no untoward incident while the VVIP accused answered the metropolitan court's summons.

Fire brigades will be in place in the Tis Hazari complex on Monday, September 30. All visitors will be screened and as far as possible kept away. Jammers will ensure that no cellular phone worked in the vicinity for as long as Rao is in court. (Jammers are necessary to block remote control explosive devices and land mines.)

A mobile hospital will follow Rao's motorcade. Further, the elite Special Protection Group will ensure that no photographs are taken of Rao if the court decides to send him to Tihar jail. The last detail is necessary in order to avoid the humiliation of a photograph of a former PM being shown in newspapers across the world going to jail in a cheating case.

The ways of VVIPs

Top businessmen and corporate managers do it all the time. So do most ministers and politicians. When flying within the country or abroad, they invariably send their factotums with their tickets and bookable luggage in advance to the airport. With the luggage booked and a comfortable seat of one's preference assured, the VIP lands up minutes before the flight takes off.

Sometime this neat little arrangement leads to complications. Like the other day, federal Sports Minister Dhanushkodi Athithan dispatched his secretary to do the needful to Delhi airport. For some reason when the minister reached the airport to take the flight to Madras, his secretary was still stuck at the airline counter. And the cops wouldn't allow Athithan entry into the departure lounge without his producing the airline ticket in spite of his insisting that he was a minister.

One big VVIP tantrum ensued, with threats to have the cops suspended. The cops stood their ground. ''If you are a passenger," they told DA, "show us your ticket. Otherwise, get yourself a valid pass for entry into the departure lounge."

Athithan called Delhi Police Commissioner Nikhil Kumar, even as a curious crowd gathered around the minister. Soon a small posse of uniformed men surfaced to prevent any untoward incident. A few moments later, the minister's secretary appeared with his boarding pass. Athithan, we hear, took it out on his hapless secretary as well.

Rani and her cell phone

Congress member of the Lok Sabha, Ratnakumari Rani, the daughter of the late foreign minister Dinesh Singh, stands out among women MPs for her immaculate dress sense and her proper manner.

New to active politics, her manner is still aloof. A little problem arose the other day when the aging CPI-M MP Nirmal Chatterjee heard the youthful lady's cellular phone in her bag emitting the offending musical ring. She was embarrassed and immediately switched off the phone which she had forgotten to do while entering the House. But the old codger that he is, Chatterjee sees cellular phones as another symbol of the economic liberalisation gone wrong. He wanted someone to tell Rani that she shouldn't carry the phone into the House.

Who would tell her? Chatterjee wasn't willing to do so himself. The back benchers he talked to did not know her. But one of them suggested that the task be assigned to the DMK member of the Lok Sabha, Pudukottai Siva, with whom she is often seen talking in parliamentary precincts. This has led to some malicious tongue-wagging in the central hall of Parliament.

Were Rani and Siva as friendly in this House as former ministers Selja Kumari and Mukul Wasnik were in the last one? The point is that when it comes to some innocent fun the nation's law-makers are no better than young college kids.

Only crusading for publicity

Rare is the man in these days of sleaze who allows his self-interest to suffer for the sake of his principles. The story of Chief Election Commissioner T N Seshan's sapphire ring, which his old buddy Subramanian Swamy insists came from Chandra Swami, is well known by now. So is Seshan's use of the private plane of an equally controversial industrialist.

Now hear this about a publicity-seeking IAS officer who along with a host of other government servants became a member of a co-operative housing society in east Delhi after its management was taken over by the Delhi Development Authority. Having got himself a plum flat, the self-styled crusader was quick to sell it at a huge premium. In this he was following the lead of some of his colleagues who became members of the society once it came under the control of a fellow civil servant.

But our crusader was amiss in not informing the housing finance company from whom he had taken a loan to buy the flat that he had sold it. The buyer was told that all loans against the house were cleared.

Unfortunately for the crusading officer, an executive of the finance company was a resident in the same colony. When the finance company approached the crusader, he pleaded amnesia and reluctantly paid back their dues. So much for the integrity of present-day crusaders!

Kesri : Bania or backward?

Sitaram Kesri The provisional Congress president, Sitaram Kesri, is an enigma wrapped in a mystery. How anyone handling the party's finances could survive for seventeen long years is a wondrous feat by itself. But Kesrai's mantra has been loyalty to the super boss. He has that rare ability to mould himself according to the demands of the changing times.

Despite the current confusion about his caste, those blessed with long memories recall how he exploited his bania caste in the eighties to stake his claim, though in vain, to become Bihar's first bania chief minister. Now that political correctness puts a premium on being a Mandal backward or even a Muslim, Kesri camouflages his bania origins to paint himself as a backward who pines for reservations for the Muslims as well.

Not long ago, there were some among the so-called lower castes assuming higher caste surnames like Sharma or even Verma. Clearly, in the Mandal Era, the order has reversed.

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