Virendra Kapoor

Out-of-work BJP woman Sushma Swaraj doesn't always speak the truth. Like when she said Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee wasn't opposed to her quitting the Delhi assembly.

Of course, Vajpayee didn't want her out. He wanted her in, to keep her rhetoric to the Delhiites that win or lose she would continue in the assembly.

Vajpayee was convinced that the party would win the South Delhi parliamentary by-election, which would have become necessary had Sushma chosen to retain her MLA's seat from Hauz Khas. The PM's key men had convinced him that by keeping faith with the Delhi voters, Sushma would help the BJP regain its lost ground. A victory in the South Delhi parliamentary by-poll would certainly lift the morale of party workers, the PM felt.

But no, Sushma had bigger things on her mind.

For starters, she desperately wanted to rejoin the Vajpayee government. If possible as the in-charge of both information and broadcasting, and telecommunications. The lady was stunned when told that Vajpayee, in a master stroke, proposed to induct New Delhi MP and former Jammu and Kashmir governor Jagmohan into his Cabinet.

Vajpayee reckoned that as Jagmohan is the darling of the RSS, the latter would be delighted to see him handle an important ministry. The RSS would not mind if he left Sushma out. In any case, with Madan Lal Khurana already in the government, and clinging on tight, Vajpayee could not have taken on another Delhiite besides Jagmohan.

A national general secretary of the BJP intervened with the PM on Sushma's behalf. Vajpayee rebuffed him. Next morning, a few hours before Jagmohan's swearing-in, Sushma insisted on meeting Vajpayee "for two minutes."

"Vajpayee was not only determined not to appoint her a minister but also advised her not to quit her assembly seat," a source revealed.

But Sushma in a last-ditch pressure tactic met the outgoing speaker Charti Lal Goel and resigned her seat.

For her part, Sushma feels she has been dropped because of her proximity to Union Home Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani . To be fair to him, Advani did not plead Sushma's case with the PM.

Days of glee

One man's joy is another's sorrow.

If we reveal that the joyous man is Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Madan Lal Khurana, even a dumbo can figure the identity of the sorrowful one.

Yes, that's right: It's Sahib Singh Verma!

Prone to burst into open-mouthed laughter at the drop of a hat, Khurana these days is on cloud nine. First had come the Delhi assembly election, which put paid to both Verma's and Sushma Swaraj's ambition to usurp his position as the BJP's man in the capital.

Then had come Vajpayee's decision not to induct Verma into his Cabinet.

Verma, meanwhile, is going about tirelessly brandishing the PM's written promise before the Delhi poll to make him a minister. But there doesn't seem to be any chance of this, now or in the near future -- a fact that has Khurana dancing a jig.

Like we said, one man's joy is another's sorrow!

Happy man Basu

Finally! Star TV's Chief Executive Officer in India Rathikant Basu has had his way.

His bugbear in the information and broadcasting ministry, Joint Secretary K S Sarma has been transferred.

Basu had undertaken many lobbying missions in recent months to have Sarma ejected. With his chief agent in Delhi, Rajat Sharma of the Janata ki Adalat fame in tow, he had even sought help from the Prime Minister's Office. But so long as Sushma Swaraj was the minister, it was no dice.

Now with the new I&B Minister Pramod Mahajan willing to do the bidding of anyone who claims proximity to the PM, the job proved a cinch.

Basu holds Sarma, an ex-officio Prasar Bharati Board member, personally responsible for exposing his alleged misdoings when he was the Doordarshan boss. A criminal case of fraud, filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation, is pending against Basu in a Delhi court.

Sham raids

Here is further proof that the recent CBI raids on a well-known industrial house in connection with the Romesh Sharma case were a sham.

Two days before the raids, the executives of the Bombay-based company removed anything that could prove remotely incriminating to safe houses. Senior executives dumped their valuables on the executive editor of the group's financial daily. The latter in turn got so scared that at the dead of night he moved three dozen bottles of imported whisky and suitcases full of valuable stuff to his relatives' houses in different parts of the city.

The executive editor, close to Advani, is a teetotaller. Possession of so many bottles of whisky without a license is an offence under the excise law.

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