Virendra Kapoor

Honest, Congress president Sonia Gandhi can carry on a conversation with scribes! And not just about the meagre rain in Delhi this season.

A few handpicked journalists, chosen essentially because of their pro-Congress proclivities, have returned with the impression that the lady is much cleverer than she is credited to be.

"Ms Clueless knows her politics pretty well," they admit grudgingly.

Admittedly, a senior political journalist harangued Madam throughout his 35-minute tete-a-tete. Like a schoolteacher, he talked about the basics of political philosophy and why the Congress should refashion itself. And kept on carping about the need to rid the party of the "malcontents and self-seekers."

Her response was to the point: Would he care to name the undesirable elements so that she could straightaway start throwing them out?

The journo, alas, refused to oblige!

A pro-Congress lady from a minor paper wanted to know about Arjun Singh fall from grace.

"Why do you say so? Arjun Singhji continues to be an important senior leader of the party," she countered, not batting an eye.

"But Arjun Singh is no longer part of the inner coterie."

Oh, there was an inner coterie, was there? She didn't really know about that -- would the scribe please enlighten her with some names?

"Well, former bureaucrat R D Pradhan was once part of it," the scribe, stumped at the way she had turned interviewer, stammered, "but he has been sidelined now."

She countered like a true politician. "No, Pradhanji is still doing very useful work."


BJP leader Sushma Swaraj carries a big chip on her shoulder.

Whenever she comes under media attack, which is quite often, thanks to her talents in that direction, she starts blaming one or another BJP leader. She would not counter the report with facts, oh no, not she! Instead, she would rush to senior party leaders complaining 'look what that man has done to me!'

Capital Buzz is fortunate to have been singled out repeatedly by Swaraj and her lawyer-husband Swaraj Kaushal. Curiously, the supposed sources working against her seem to change with her changing perception of rivals.

Some months ago it was the BJP's face on television, Arun Jaitley. Then Madan Lal Khurana took over. Now she says it is two members of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's foster family.

Which is why we publish this clarification: Dear, charming Sushma, none of the people you suspect are responsible for what appears in this column. But if you look sharp...

God Gill

Rule number one: The prime minister shall not take with him any press party on election tours.

Why? Because Chief Election Commissioner Dr Manohar Singh Gill says so.

And why does Dr Gill say so? To ensure a 'level playing field.'

Rule number two: No television channel shall have any politician on its show 48 hours before polling.

Why? Because Dr Gill says so... yeah, right, to ensure 'level playing field'.

"But," protested a popular television anchor, "it will be hard to run election-related programmes without politicians!"

"Well, you can invite me," replied Dr Gill, "I am willing to sit all 48 hours for you."

Now, why do we get the feeling that Dr Gill was dead serious?

The Saviour

Okay, here's this week's quiz:

Who admitted former internal security minister Arun Nehru to the BJP?

Wrong! It wasn't Union Home Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani but Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi! Joshi and Nehru, high caste brahmins both, have been rather close for some years now.

Incidentally, Nehru claims to make substantial money from his farmhouse in South Delhi -- tax-free agriculture income, you see!

Capital Buzz