Virendra Kapoor

One thing that President K R Narayanan seems to enjoy greatly is setting precedents (and, in the process, courting controversies!). Check out the following if you don't believe us:

He was the first tenant of Rashtrapati Bhavan to vote in a general election. His predecessors, to underline, albeit symbolically, the independence of the Head of the Republic from partisan party politics had kept away from polling booths.

He broke the well-established tradition of addressing the nation on Republic Day. Instead, he handpicked his favourite journalist, N Ram of Frontline for a longish television interview.

He set a questionable precedent when he asked the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government to seek a trust vote after the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam withdrew support. The Budget session was on, and one could have seen whether or not the government enjoyed majority by moving, say, a cut motion on any of the pending money bills.

Now the President has raised the hackles of constitutional pundits by summoning individual government officials for one-to-one interaction. Last week he had Indian Airlines Chairman-cum-Managing Director Anil Baijal over. The joint secretary-level officer was quizzed about the proposed infusion of Rs 1.25 billion as equity in IA.

Narayanan's action was all the more surprising, given that the 1999-2000 Budget, unanimously passed by Parliament, had already provided for the equity infusion.

However, what has really got the government's goat is Narayanan's summons to the three service chiefs to brief him about the on-going Kargil operations. From the word filtering down, Narayanan seemed keen to embarrass the government.

"Instead of stressing the need to eject the intruders," sources reveal, "his line of questioning suggested that he was on a fault-finding mission."

President Vs PM?

After meeting the service chiefs, the President had another discussion, his second in three days, with Prime Minister Vajpayee. He is believed to have asked why action was delayed against the intruders, despite them being noticed as early as May 4. But what the government found more galling was that verbatim account of the deliberations was being made available to a section of the press and senior Congress leaders.

"In the wake of the Kargil crisis, Narayanan is now openly arrayed against the government," his critics allege.

Bad to worse

When troubles come, they come in battalions.

Disgraced Delhi socialite Bina Ramani now has the Enforcement Directorate after her. Following model-cum-bartender Jessica Lal's murder at her illicit bar-cum-restaurant, the ED has revived investigations about Ramani's connection with Chandra Swami.

On her own admission, Ramani had deposited a cheque for a huge amount given to her by Chandra Swami in her New York bank. The proceeds were passed on to the tantrik.

Ramani describes it as a 'one-off' transaction. But the Directorate isn't buying.

No deadline possible

That billion dollar question again: When will India be able to evict the intruders in Kargil?

The truth is that unless Pakistan pulls them out, it can take at least till the onset of winter. So says a top-secret intelligence assessment presented to the prime minister a few days ago.

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