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Capital Buzz/Virendra Kapoor

Power brokers all

There is more to the Rs 1.33 billion urea scam than meets the eye. Since hawala channels were used to bring back the commission paid by the Turkish firm, Karsan, to the Indian agents, a house in Delhi's Greater Kailash- I area was raided by the enforcement directorate.

The house's owner is a well-known power broker in the capital's political circles and close to, among others, former fertiliser minister Ram Lakhan Singh Yadav (right). He also represents a fertilisers company in India.The CBI is investigating his possible connection with the US-based company, Rea Brothers, in which Yadav's son, Prakash, is said to have deposited $ 200,000 which was his share of the commission in the deal.

Soon after the raid, the agent left for London. It was no coincidence, the CBI believes, that Pinaki Misra, newly elected member of the Lok Sabha from Puri in Orissa and an associate of Chandra Swami, was in London at the same time.

Also giving him company in London was another power broker close to former minister V C Shukla.When the Greater Kailash bungalow was raided, "Vidya bhaiyya's man" had pulled strings to hush up the inquiry. The CBI will pick up the thread of inquiry from the point where it was abandoned by the enforcement directorate.

The rotten core

Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda (right) is not entirely innocent of the ways of the capital's wheeler-dealers. Therefore, he is at pains not to be seen with the wrong sort of guys, especially after he committed the faux pas of flying in the private jets of a booze baron and a textile tycoon in the company of a wheeler-dealer.

A few days ago, an industrialist member of the Rajya Sabha met Deve Gowda. The meeting was fixed by a particularly unsavoury wheeler-dealer. At the end of the meeting, Deve Gowda confided his anguish to one of his callers. "I want to stay away from crooks and fixers. Now here is a man who is a well-known industrialist, besides being an MP. Did he have to come through that power broker? He could as well have picked up the phone and rung my office. You think I would have said no to meeting him?"

The moral rot is deeper than anyone can imagine.

Yadav's gang of four

Resentment is growing in the Samajwadi Party against what its rank and file calls the gang of four. Defence Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav's (right) proximity to the SP member of the Rajya Sabha, controversial industrialist Sanjay Dalmia; Dalmia's relative and Yadav's PR manager, Amitabh Adhar; another party MP, film star Raj Babbar; and above all, budding industrialist and the Bhartiyas's liaison man, Amar Singh, has caused much heartburn among senior SP leaders.

Raghu Thakur, the Madhya Pradesh SP leader, left the party in disgust sometime ago. Another senior SP leader who lost narrowly in the recent Lok Sabha poll is ready to quit the party, in protest.

On the fringes of the group is Subroto Roy, the owner of the Sahara airline. Roy was last in the news for alleged attempts to rig the election in Lucknow in Babbar's favour. The BSP's alliance with the Congress is a godsend for SP leaders to protest Yadav's marginalisation of all but the group of four.

Ignorance is bliss

Thanks to Janata Dal president and Bihar Chief Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav, there are plenty of greenhorns in the Deve Gowda ministry who had not stirred out of the state before the parliamentary election. Minister of State for Environment Jai Narayan Nishad (right) was clueless about his brief. His private secretary, a Bihar cadre IAS officer, hands him the brief which Nishad dutifully parrots whenever pushed into taking a public stand

In a recent face-off with one of his predecessors, Maneka Gandhi, over the need to ban experiments on animals in educational institutions, Nishad kept harping on the 'need to consider what will happen to rural schools.' When told that a vast majority of village schools did not have the wherewithal to dissect frogs and mice, he said, "Then we will provide them this."

It was not enough for him that both the law and human resource development ministries had cleared the recommendation of a panel experts to ban experimentation with animals. "I cannot gazette this order till I have studied how they deal with this in England and America." So there you have the makings of an official tour by the hon'ble minister.

Bhagat's cup of woes

Former minister H K L Bhagat (right, below) recently sought an audience with Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda. After pleasantries, Deve Gowda was surprised when Bhagat let loose a tirade against Congress president P V Narasimha Rao.

Warning him against trusting Rao, Bhagat cited his own case, "Look, how he treated me. Got me involved in false murder cases and when I filed my nomination papers for two parliamentary constituencies in Delhi, he personally assured me all help in ending my persecution on trumped-up charges. Made me a deputy spokesman of the AICC, but not for one day has he allowed me to brief the press once I withdrew from the electoral fray."

Deve Gowda heard Bhagat in silence but did not utter a word against Rao. The former Delhi Congress strongman left with the promise that the premier will have the cases against him re-examined.

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