Virendra Kapoor

Of course, it's not true. It's just a rumour spread by people who are maliciously jealous of Amma, our Wholly Mother in Madras -- imagine the cheek to call her the Father of Fixers! Would Mother ever stoop so low? You bet your last piece of gold she won't. But wagging tongues will keep wagging. Like this man here:

"Want a deal clinched? Or an unusual appointment made?" he is asking, "Or an extension in service given to a key official? Head straight for the nearest AlADMK leader in the capital..."

Nasty man, bad man. What ever has he got against the Wholly Mother, this incarnation of humbleness and purity? Just because Mother helped place a few people in key posts with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and just because the said people were the factotums of a controversial industrial house in Bombay, you can't call Mother a Fixer. She is not!

"Oh yeah?" the nasty man is at his nastiness again, "And she didn't arm-twist Vajpayee's hand so hard he had swellings for a whole week either, I suppose?"

Look at him speaking! Mother twisted Vajpayee's arm indeed! The Wholly Mother, good sir, is not interested in even holding anyone's hand (besides Sasikala's), let alone twisting it!

"Really?" the nasty man laughs, "How about the controversy over the extension to Union Law Secretary V K Aggarwal (who attracted notoriety when his wife's name figured in the list of those allotted out of turn petrol pumps by former petroleum minister Satish Sharma)? Hadn't the same Bombay industrial house asked Amma's men to 'fix' it so that they could go about their business peacefully?"

This man is mad. Just because somebody asked Mother to help out with an extension, he's calling her a Fixer!

"And isn't it a fact," the man continues, "that Law Minister Thambi Durai, Amma's good son in Delhi who always stand up from his chair when he takes her telephone calls, proposed an extension for Aggarwal? Isn't it a fact that Vajpayee promptly shot down the proposal? That the Delhi high court too looked askance at the move?

"Isn't it fact that then Thambi Durai conveyed to the prime minister that Amma would be very, very angry with him if Aggarwal wasn't given at least a six-month extension? Isn't it a fact that Vajpayee refused to budge? Isn't it a fact that, by the time our conversation goes online, Aggarwal would have retired to the relief of the legal fraternity?"

Lies, lies, all lies! Mother never did any of these things! Mother never would even think of such things... Mother, oh, Mother, what is India coming to?

How Darbara went to Jaipur...

One Singh's loss is another Singh's gain.

The Singh duo in mention is sacked communications minister Buta Singh and Rajasthan Governor Darbara Singh. The latter had almost missed his bus to Jaipur till the former was pushed out of his. Here is how it happened:

Union Home Minister L K Advani wanted Darbara to be made the lieutenant governor of the Andaman and Nicobar islands. But Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who sponsored Darbara Singh's case to reward him for vacating the Jalandhar seat for former prime minister Inder Kumar Gujral to contest, rejected that backwater assignment. He wanted his protege sent to a major state, preferably Rajasthan. But Rajasthan Chief Minister Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, a BJP man, was unwilling to have Darbara anywhere near the Jaipur Raj Bhavan. And so the tug of war went on...

But luckily for Darbara, circumstances forced Buta out of the government. Since he represented a Lok Sabha constituency in Rajasthan and could be relied on to turn his ire against the saffron party, the Vajpayee-Advani duo reckoned a Sikh governor in Jaipur would send the right signals to the over 10 per cent minority population in the state. Besides, it would keep the least troublesome BJP ally, namely Badal, in a good frame of mind.

And that's how Darbara went to Jaipur.

Brother, don't kick up a row

Michael Fernandes, Defence Minister George Fernandes's younger bro, almost dragged his sibling into a controversy the other day.

As the Hind Mazdoor Kisan Panchayat leader, Michael was all set to lambast the Chandrababu Naidu government for its alleged apathy towards the striking powermen in Andhra Pradesh. He was to release to the press a set of resolutions adopted at the HMKP's national executive meeting. When big brother learnt of the trenchant criticism of Naidu -- a resolution called him Hitler -- he persuaded Michael to cancel his press conference. George feared he would be hauled up for riling a valuable ally of the government if his brother hurled strong invectives against the Telugu Desam Party supremo.

Incidentally, George's home in Hauz Khas, South Delhi, also serves as the HMKP's national headquarters.


The fight has heated up again.

This time, it is the appointment of retired Indian Foreign Service official Brajesh Mishra as principal secretary to the prime minister that has set the diplomatic service and the heaven-born Indian Administrative Service at each others jugulars.

The IAS-wallahs's grouse is that Mishra has poached on what was all along their preserve. In any case, they argue, Mishra has been out of the service for so long that he has lost touch with things.

Senior IAS officials, who have now launched a whispering campaign against Mishra, blames him for a minor delay in the clearance of a proposal by the Prime Minister's Office. The proposal pertained to appointing new secretaries to a couple of ministries.

"Mishra has all his working life dealt with the USA and other foreign countries," officials comment cattily, "It would take him some time to readjust to deal with domestic matters."

The BJP circles, meanwhile, fear the IAS lobby's resentment might cause problems for the government. Besides, there is a belated realisation that the principal secretary ought to be well up on national rather than international politics.

Before his current appointment, Mishra was the convener of the BJP's foreign affairs cell.

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