Virendra Kapoor

Sorry, we were wrong, folks -- the Jayalalitha bomb is ticking still! And it is not merely due to the BJP-Samata Party combine's efforts to impose central rule in Bihar.

Of course, the AIADMK supremo is livid at this 'double standard' of the Atal-Advani duo. Her minions in the Vajpayee ministry have already made it known that the Karunanidhi government should go if Rabri Devi went in Bihar.

Even before the controversial Bihar decision, Jayalalitha was getting hot under the collar for the supposed perfidy of Information and Boardcasting Minister Sushma Swaraj. A full page advertisement in a leading New Delhi daily inserted by Sun TV, owned by DMK leader Murasoli Maran, thanking Swaraj for 'allowing Indian broadcasters to uplink direct from India', complete with a large-sized photograph of the minister, was the proverbial last straw for a very peeved Jayalalitha.

The ad, which ended by offering a 'A big thank you, Madam. You have given just what Indian broadcasters wanted' rubbed salt into Jaya's wounds. She was already peeved with Swaraj for having ignored the memorandum submitted by the AIADMK MPs seeking a full probe in Sun TV's affairs.

The AIADMK members' allegation is that Sun TV violated the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act and therefore needed to be investigated by the Enforcement Directorate.

What was particularly galling for Jayalalitha was that in the initial days of the Vajpayee government, when the BJP leadership desperately wooed her, it was Swaraj who had virtually played the role of the lady in-waiting during her visits to the capital to talk things over.

The pandal man

There is hope yet for this country. The manner in which the New Delhi Municipal Committee pulled down an illegal marriage pandal in the heart of Delhi should warm all pining for the rule of law.

It happened as follows:

Sithanshu Mittal, a big-time tentwallah for whose sake Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha had exempted the entire outdoor catering industry from service tax, was in the process of putting up the pandal when NDMC men arrived. But Mittal threw his weight around and shooed them away.

When the NDMC bosses got to know of Mittal's audacity, they immediately asked him to pull down the pandal. Instead of complying with the order, Mittal used pressure tactics. One of Mithal's minions, Vijay Goel, the BJP MP from Chandni Chowk, spoke at the highest level in the civic body to dissuade it against the demolition of the illegal pandal. Even Pramod Mahajan deemed it fit to intercede on Mittal's behalf.

But all was in vain. NDMC men pulled down the pandal a few days ago.

A while ago, Mittal had put up an illegal pandal in the up-market Civil Lines colony in Old Delhi. Despite attempts by the Delhi Municipal Corporation to have him remove it voluntarily, he had refused to do so. The pandal was a source of nuisance to the entire colony since it was being used as a semi-permanent banquet hall for marriage parties. Ultimately, the DMC demolished it on court orders.

Mittal, a former Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad functionary, is so well-connected that not only the BJP but even the Congress depends on him for putting up pandals for its plenary sessions.

On his boss's secret service

Rathikant Basu might have left Doordashan to take up a highly profitable job with the Rupert Murdoch -owned Star TV. He may have lured half a dozen senior Doordarshan staffers, mostly women, to follow him. Yet, he finds it hard to stop meddling in the affairs of the national broadcaster.

Basu, facing charges of criminal fraud and conspiracy levelled by the CBI, is desperate to ensure the removal of former Doordarshan director-general K S Sarma from his post of joint secretary in the information and broadcasting ministry. And for removing Sarma, he has now commandeered the services of a television anchor, who produces a low-brow weekly political farce on Star TV.

A few days ago the said anchor, to whom Basu has thrown crumbs by way of lucrative contracts for additional programmes, conducted the Star TV CEO around on a tour of the Prime Minister's Office in their quest. But the two were rebuffed. Despite the said anchor's efforts, the PM is unimpressed by their interest in Sarma's posting.

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