Virendra Kapoor

It ain't a dog-eat-dog world this, our world of the media. We scribes help one another out, scratch one another's back, forget to mention one another's names in our reports when we are linked to embarrassing men... anything for a pal, that's how we function.

Which is why there hasn't been much publicity about the journo-friends of Romesh Sharma, gangster Dawood Ibrahim's man in Delhi, who's currently held under the National Security Act.

But we have decided to set a precedent; we have no qualms about eating dogs. So here goes some dope about the said scribes:

Heading the list of Sharma's contacts is a national weekly's fixer-editor. The second one has BJP leanings and, on losing his job some years ago, made a successful switch to television. The third enjoys the tag of a fixer and is into both television and print journalism.

The next two in line are Hindi scribes, one a former MP, the other a journo who wanted to be an MP but couldn't make it.

The last name on the list is that of an ex-business journalist who later opted for PR as a career.

Electronic leak

The chaps who specialise in keeping tabs on the workings of the government are finding it easy now. Thanks to email.

Since more and more public officials are equipped with computers and the obligatory email facility, the theft of official secrets is but child's play. Raids in connection with the Romesh Sharma case have yielded evidence of such. Several computer disks containing minutes of Cabinet meetings, notes, proposed economic policy changes, top-secret information et al were found in the houses of Sharma and his alleged accomplice, the corporate fixer.

Initially, the sleuths took the floppies to be stolen from government offices. Only after experts analysed them did they learn that the information had come via email. They are now trying to figure out whether the half-a-dozen senior officials, from whose addresses the leaks originated, were involved with Sharma.

To wind up, we will give a clue to the most generous leak: a high-flying IAS official, widely known for his corporate connections.

Our man in Islamabad

India's High Commissioner to Islamabad, Satish Chandra, is being transferred.

Those short-listed to replace him include Naresh Dayal, secretary (east) in the ministry of external affairs, G Parthasarthy, current high commissioner to Australia, and M L Tripathi, high commissioner to Mauritius.

Being the senior-most, Dayal is ahead in the race, though the others too have substantial experience of working in Pakistan.


Union Urban Affairs Minister Ram Jethmalani has no patience for bureaucratic regulations. What he wants, he wants here and now.

Despite the stand-off between him (click here for another take on Jethmalani) and Secretary Kiran Aggarwal, Jethmalani continues to push his own agenda. A case in point is the allotment of a plum piece of land abutting a five-star hotel on one side and a school for the blind on the other.

The precious piece of real estate had for long been the bone of contention between a Delhi government undertaking and a well-known hotel group. The undertaking wants to retain it for its own use while the hotel wants it for expansion.

The blind school, too, joined the act some time ago, seeking the land for expansion.

A few days ago, the hyperactive Jethmalani ordered that the plot be allotted to the hotel chain. When it was put to him that he has to seek the opinion of the law ministry or the solicitor general, Jethmalani brushed aside the suggestion with disdain. Wasn't he a super-duper lawyer? Doesn't he wear two hats, one of lawyer and the other of minister?

So, wearing the lawyer's hat, he concluded that the hotel chain alone deserved to be allotted the land; wearing the minister's, he allotted it.

And that's how the said hotel got land worth over Rs 1 billion for a song.

Trouble for Dixit

Delhi Congress chief Shiela Dixit decided to contest from the Gole Market assembly constituency for fear of her bete noire, H K L Bhagat, sabotaging her campaign if she stuck to her first choice of Babarpur.

Bhagat is all the more angry with the leadership for denying his son Deepak nomination.

Since she had unsuccessfully contested the parliamentary poll from East Delhi, Dixit was keen to contest from one of the assembly constituencies there. In a meeting presided over by party president Sonia Gandhi, she repeatedly referred to East Delhi as "my constituency". Whereupon a veteran Congressman just couldn't let it go: "She talks as if she had won the seat with a thumping majority!"

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