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                        Virendra Kapoor

Some months ago, a former Chief Justice of India approached the Indian headquarters of a well-known multinational company in Bombay. He wanted the issuance of some duplicate shares, worth about Rs 2 million even at the current reduced prices, which were misplaced.

Senior executives were so taken up with the credentials of their visitor that they promised to issue him the duplicates within a week. Having no reason to suspect his bonafides, they decided to dispense with the normal drill in such cases like the insertion of a public notice in newspapers notifying the loss and inviting objections. But the same officials were at their wits' end when the following day the former CJI's sister approached them with the entire lot of shares which were said to be lost.

The shares, she said, were held by her late father and now she wanted them transferred in her name. She produced all the relevant documets to effect the transfer lawfully.

Small wonder the former CJI wanted duplicate shares -- the originals, you see, were 'misplaced'!

A governor's lament

West Bengal Governor K V Raghunatha Reddy follows political events closely even though his constitutional office allows him no say in such matters. What he cannot express openly, Reddy records in his personal diary.

An old Leftist, Reddy was very upset when Rangarajan Kumaramangalam joined the BJP a few weeks ago. Ranga, Reddy lamented, was not a 'faithful' son of Mohan Kumaramangalam. He could have joined the Naxalites or even the People's War Group... but to join the BJP was nothing short of sacrilege.

Reddy was also angry at the denial of a ticket to former prime minister P V Narasimha Rao. He lambasted the entrenched Congress leadership as a 'pack of illiterates and small men'. Rao, he said, was a scholarly man who was willing to take everything in his stride.

Reddy and Rao are old friends from Andhra Pardesh and keep in regular touch with each other.

Son-stroke, this?

Why was the director-general of foreign trade, Samar Mahapatra, transferred overnight?

Because, you see, the senior IAS official failed to do the bidding of Prime Minister I K Gujral's exporter son, Naresh.

A few weeks ago Mahapatra incurred Naresh's wrath and found himself summarily transferred to an innocuous post. An officer with a blemishless record, he was reluctant to clear a particular project without going through the necessary process. Naresh, sources in Udyog Bhavan which also houses the DGFT office, said, wanted it done instantaneously. When Mahapatra demurred, he was summarily transferred within a couple of hours.

Zee> unhappy with BJP

Contrary to the general impression, the Zee television channel is not soft on the BJP. Indeed, relations between the Subhash Chandra Goel- owned satellite channel and senior BJP leaders have become so strained in recent weeks that Zee blacked out all news about the party for a couple of days!

In the beginning Zee was BJP-friendly. Goel had established a close rapport with senior BJP leaders, including Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L K Advani. But their relations soured following the induction of a hawala-tainted journalist as an adviser to the channel.

The said journalist was viscerally anti-BJP. The first victim of the new regime was the man in charge of the nightly Zee News. He was stripped off all his powers for his alleged bias towards the BJP. When BJP general secretary Pramod Mahajan took up the case of the harassed man, Goel allegedlly ticked him off. Matters came to a head when Zee News removed the images of BJP leaders from their election-time montage and subsequently blacked out all news about the party.

Last heard, the dispute was resolved through the intervention of senior BJP leaders, though the truce appears temporary. It seems a former Zee television anchor who had since switched sides to the Murdoch-owned Star channel was adding fuel to the fire.

The BJP-Zee face-off was in part a reflection of the Star-Zee fracas with Star's dollar-rich anchors acting as the interested spoilers.

A friendly tiff?

Not long ago, Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayanti Natarajan were the best of friends. But recently something has snapped between them.

Frequent fliers on the Madras-Delhi circuit were the first to notice the bad vibes between the two ministers. When Chidambaram finds himself face to face with Natarajan in the VIP lounge of the airport, he lunges for the nearest available telephone and engages in long conversation till it is time to board the plane. Sources said relations between the two soured even further over the clearance to Tata's airlines project.

Chidambaram, it seems, routinely seeks to influence decision-making in matters strictly outside his ministry's purview.

All the PM's doctors

How many physicians fly with the prime minister? Believe it or not, as many as three.

One is his long-time personal physician. Privilege to see India gratis was his when his patient became the PM, albeit accidentally. The second doctor is on the rolls of the Central Government Health Scheme and thus must enjoy the perk of flying with the PM wherever he flies. The third is a heart specialist who too must be with Gujral given his advanced years and the alarming rise in heart ailments in recent years.

The three are armed, besides their medical equipment, with walkie-talkies which are tuned into the Special Protection Group frequency. On landing, Gujral's pulse rate and blood pressure are checked without fail. His wife Sheela, who invariably travels with him, then puts eye-drops in Gujral's eyes before he readies to alight from the aircraft.

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