Finally, the Central Bureau of Investigation has acquired a backbone.
We refer to the probe into what has come to be known as the Abhishek Verma affair. A lot of pressure was brought on the agency to forget about a senior Congress leader's aide. But to zilch avail.
Quite aside from this gentleman, the key figure in the Verma scam turns out to be Ashok Aggarwal, a former joint director at the Enforcement Directorate.
A middle-level income tax officer, he first hit the headlines in the mid-1980s by sealing 50-odd bank lockers on the suspicion that their owners had amassed illicit wealth. When the lockers were opened, they contained no valuables. Obviously, someone had cleaned them out.
Later, thanks to a Congress-friendly television journalist, Aggarwal became private secretary to a Cabinet minister in the Rajiv Gandhi government. He allegedly used that position to amass assets. The Central Vigilance Commission, fully aware of his activities, was prevented from doing its job by Aggarwal's patrons in successive central governments.
The advent of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime saw Aggarwal latching on to a wheeler-dealer television anchor. The said anchor tried his best to plant Aggarwal as a private secretary to the prime minister. Mercifully, a preliminary check of Aggarwal's antecedents prevented this.
While he continued in the Enforcement Directorate, Aggarwal, in league with the anchor, tried to bring Zee to heel. Among his other targets was a prominent industrialist who is believed to have coughed up a substantial sum...
But now Aggarwal is not in the driver's seat. Despite furious attempts by his friends, the CBI is hot on his trail.
Aggarwal, now in hiding, has applied for anticipatory bail.
Party sans Bhavan
The Congress has, or rather had, Jawahar Bhavan, a multi-storey plush building in the heart of Raisina Hill, to operate from. It is a different matter the party chose to gift it away to its leader Sonia Gandhi, who now operates the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation from there.
The CPI has the plush multi-storey Ajoy Bhavan for its central office-cum-hostel for itinerant comrades from all over the world.
The A K Gopalan Bhavan in the capital serves as the headquarters of the CPI-M.
But the BJP, the party its critics allege is pro-capitalist, has no bhavan to call its own. It has for long been functioning from 11, Ashoka Road, a mid-sized government bungalow allotted to a party leader.
However, there is hope yet: a large plot in the Lodhi Road complex is being allotted to the party. It is earmarked for a long-term lease to the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Trust. It will erect a multi-storey complex to house the BJP and the rest of its huge family.
Sushma the devious
Did dissident BJP leader Sushma Swaraj rake up the Ram Mandir issue in Bhopal to trouble the Vajpayee government?
Senior leaders in the Sangh Parivar ascribe mischief to her statement. Sushma, a one-time protege of Socialist leader George Fernandes, is upset with the BJP leadership.
She and her lawyer husband, Swaraj Kaushal, lose no opportunity to carp against senior party leaders, notably Vajpayee. All because the prime minister ignored her ministerial claim.
Small wonder, then, that many complain about the Congressisation of the BJP!
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