Virendra Kapoor

Union Revenue Secretary N K Singh has his gaze fixed firmly on the top-most job in the capital's babudom. And Nandu, as he is known from the days of the late L N Mishra, is ready to resort to any stratagem to get it.

Given his reputation, in normal times Singh would have fallen by the way side. But now things have changed, and he is going from strength to strength. Former minister of state for revenue R K Kumar was so unhappy with his secretary that he wanted him out. So did Kumar's boss, Jayalalitha. But before they could see Nandu out, the latter had conspired to have Kumar sacked!

Singh first blocked the appointment of an official hand-picked by Kumar as his private secretary. Again, when Kumar wanted the entire team of Madras-based income tax officials who had raided Jayalalitha's Poes Garden house transferred, Singh withheld the names of at least three key officials. Naturally, Jaya was livid with rage; but there was little Kumar could do, with Nandu playing the spoilsport.

Nandu now hopes to be rewarded for having stopped Kumar from pushing through Jaya's partisan agenda. He has also enlisted the services of a fixer-scribe who had now wormed his way into the parlour of senior BJP ministers. So do not be surprised if Nandu takes over from Montek Singh Ahluwalia as the Union finance secretary at the end of the Budget session.

Incidentally, Nandu and Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, a fellow Bihari, are the best of friends. After all, the two have common patrons in the world of high finance and industry...

The Jayabomb ticks on...

After a brief post-Pokhran lull, the Jayalalitha bomb is ticking away to glory again.

No way is the Imperious Empress of Poes Garden, the Wholly Mother in Madras, willing to wait longer than mid-June for the Karunanidhi government's dismissal. How Vajpayee gets rid of the DMK regime is none of her concern -- she wants it out, and out it should go before the biennial election to the Rajya Sabha in June-end, when six RS members from Tamil Nadu would retire.

"As things stand now," say political analysts, "no one from the AIADMK stands a chance in the ensuing RS poll. Hence Amma's anxiety to force the dismissal before the election."

As a first step to pressurise the BJP-led government, Jayalalitha may well submit the resignations of the remaining three AIADMK ministers by mid- June. (Two of her men, S R Muthiah and R K Kumar, had already quit in peculiar circumstances.) Undated resignation letters of the three ministers are already in her possession. The moment she decides to go public with her grouse with Vajpayee, she would despatch the resignation letters to him.

The ticking Jaya bomb is not lost on the BJP leaders. But barring half-baked attempts to muster support from a section of the regional groups from UP and Bihar, they appear quite resigned to their fate. The BJP bosses now believe that the government might survive even if Jayalalitha withdrew support. They are banking on Sonia Gandhi, who doesn't want to become the prime minister as yet. Nor does she want any other Congressman to become PM.

Leaves the chair free for Vajpayee, right? At least, till Madam is ready to take over?

Unlucky Gill

Poor, poor K P S Gill!

One of the big perks of being an official organiser of any sport is to travel abroad on an all-expense paid junket. But Gill, the high-profile president of the Indian Hockey Federation, could not be with his team in Utrecht, Netherlands, for the ninth World Cup hockey tournament. Authorities there told Gill not to come -- in view of the threat from alleged Khalistani militants.

Mid-way through the tournament, when Indians were virtually out of the reckoning, Gill was still itching to go. So what if the Indians were about to be knocked out? Going there is what it matters, right?

Tit for tat

Heads of diplomatic mission invariably have to wait long to present their credentials to the head of the host state. It is not unusual, for example, for an ambassador-designate to wait for over six months before he is able to present his credentials to the US president. Often, the accreditation ceremony of heads of a few foreign missions is clubbed together.

Now President K R Narayanan, in order to save expense and cut the waiting period for ambassador-designates, proposes to hold multiple accreditation ceremonies wherein at least three heads of mission could submit their papers to him.

When posted to China as India's ambassador in the 1980s, Narayanan waited for 40 days to present his papers. With Sino-Indian relations hitting a rough patch post-Pokhran, the ambassador-designate from Beijing is keen to present his papers so that he can officially begin to represent his country. But he has been cooling his heels waiting for a call from Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Chinese diplomats have requested the Foreign Office for an early accreditation ceremony for their new boss, but none in the MEA are willing to nudge Narayanan, knowing how long the Chinese had made him wait before accepting his papers.

Sahib's caste fixation

Delhi Chief Minister Sahib Singh Verma is known in the ruling BJP circles as a moodh Jat (unthinking Jat). His hectoring style and immense faith in casteism rubs most people he comes in contact with the wrong way.

The current hue and cry over power breakdowns in the capital, BJP insiders insist, is partly caused by Verma who used filthy language to berate leaders of the Delhi Viduyat Board. The DVB employees, in order to get their own back on a very rude Verma, had taken to an undeclared go-slow. The shortage of power was complicated further by bad distribution.

Invariably, the CM's response to any crisis is to replace him with a nominee of his own. Now he is pressing hard for Virender Singh, a Jat IAS officer, to be given a high-profile job.

If Navin Chawla the DVB boss, is to pay for the power bungle, his job should be given to Virender Singh, argues the Delhi CM.

However, Union Home Minister L K Advani is reluctant to give Virender Singh a key post in view of the pending vigilance inquiries against him. But this hasn't deterred the Delhi CM from pushing Virender Singh's case.

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