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May 13, 1999


E-Mail this column to a friend Varsha Bhosle


Jessica Lal case update: YS Dadwal, the naive joint commissioner of police who didn't know that the bar at Tamarind Court was illegally run by Bina Ramani, was relieved of his post by the ministry of home affairs.

The PRO of the Delhi police has denied the ToI report on a sub-inspector of the Mehrauli police station being transferred after he asked Ramani to halt her "private" parties: "No sub-inspector of the Mehrauli police station was transferred on this account around that time." Question: Was a sub-inspector transferred on any other account around that time? Are we to believe that the gnomes would've faithfully entered "Transferred due to acquainting Bina Ramani with the law" in the files...?

Malini Ramani gave us another solution to the Case of the Cleansed Floor: "the blood was washed away when the boys inside the bar used water to dampen Jessica's face to revive her."

When asked if she'd heard about the Archeological Survey of India filing FIRs against the alterations to the heritage property, Bina Ramani said, "We have held so many parties here. We have rented this out to influential visitors from the West... No one said nothing. The system should have guided us because we would never have violated any laws had we known we were doing anything wrong." Like the Excise Act, I suppose...


Full marks to Samajwadi Party's Amar Singh for his tongue-in-cheek jab at the Shroud. Singh claimed that during their meeting, Mulayam had said, "Humko hamare dal mein aapke samarthan ko lekar gatirodh hai (There's a road-block in my party over the issue of support to you)," and the Shroud took this to be assent. 'Course it didn't happen! Mulayam is many odious things, but a fool he ain't. Naturally, the secs reacted to Amar Singh's dig exactly like they do to Balasaheb's -- with their paltry sense of humour firmly interred in their backyards.


I'm finally beginning to understand how politics works: My friend's friend may not be my friend, but my enemy's enemy is most certainly my friend. Today, there's no greater hero for me than Mulayam. When I rustle the papers each morning, I want to perform a full-fledged aarti to his image. If the Shroud would've succeeded in her attempt, I wouldn't have immolated myself a la Uma Bharati, no. I understand her plight, but she's a saadhvi, and I'm not. So I say: if she must, then why not take some evil with her, too? Uma: the Saffron Bomb...


Ooh, the way Mulayam's going about it, Rajjubhaiya couldn't have done it better. The SP released an article penned by him which states, "My decision was taken to save the country from going into the hands of foreign forces... There was also a danger of Sonia Gandhi taking decisions for her political interest and selfish gains that could be detrimental to the interest of democracy, the country's economy and independence... It looks like these leaders have surrendered before Sonia Gandhi as if she is above principles and the country's interests."

Must say, these secularists have got the rhetoric down pat. As they say, hira hi hirey ko kaat-ta hai... SP general secretary Azam Khan asserted at the media conference that a number of Congress leaders, including A R Antulay and Sunil Dutt, had "compromised with communal forces." Hey, I didn't say it. Look who did!


What did I tell you about The Great Maratha Milquetoast? At a Press meet, Pawar stressed that the Congress would improve its performance in the polls since the people were fed up with coalitions and would certainly give the emasculated ones a clear mandate. Total U-turn from his speech at the CII conference. Back to ji huzoor. This is no Maratha! This is a slug! And so's Madhav Scindia. No wonder he carries the alien twist on "Shindhe" like a medal.


In all that gloom and doom after the fall of the Vajpayee government, comic relief came in the form of, who else, Sancho Panza in, what else, Frontline. Excerpts:

"Jayalalitha staked her entire political and physical future. She was immune to the offers by corrupt industrialists. She was incensed by the sacking of Vishnu Bhagwat. It was purely a patriotic reaction, and had nothing to do with the dismissal of the DMK government or the cases against her."

"I am known to the three women personally. They think I am fair and straightforward. Ultimately each of them was motivated by national interest."

(What about the inherent contradictions among the Opposition parties?) "India is full of inherent contradictions. Resolving them is part of democracy... The BJP's allies will split on their own anyway. I don't perceive any problem. I am not going to spell out how we are going to resolve the contradictions. This is the art and science of government-making."


Last week, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had the congregation at the NABARD function in peels of laughter with his wit ("Pyaaz se bhi mukhti nahi aur vyaaz se bhi mukhti nahi"). When a group of lensmen requested him to ask the security crew to let them approach the dais, Atalji said, "Ye hamari nahi sunengey, hamari to kaam-chalaau sarkar hai (they won't listen to me, mine is a caretaker government)." Upon which, the mediamen spontaneously responded, "Hum log aap-ke saath hain (we're with you)."

At another function in the capital on the same day, press photographers and cameramen staged a noisy walkout, protesting at the "unco-operative attitude" of the security personnel of the presiding deity: Chief guest Sonia Gandhi...


Arundhati Roy, Medha Patkar, Swami Agnivesh, Asghar Ali Engineer, Anand Patwardhan, G R Khairnar and company have embarked on a peace march from Khetolai to Sarnath to rally support for a non-nuclear world. The anti-nationalists just don't get it: they've become so irrelevant. This Buddha is indeed smiling: What's done cannot be undone. So walk your feet off, dingbats.

A year ago, the prophets of doom had guaranteed a fate worse than Hiroshima for India. Reality: Agricultural production increased 6.8%. Food stocks rose from 18 million tonnes to 22 million tonnes. Inflation fell from 5% to 3.92%. Exports rose in March by 10%. Forex reserves jumped from $ 25 billion to $ 29 billion. Foreign investment rose from less than $ 200 million to $ 500 million a month. And this, with the depressed economy inherited from Chidambaram's "dream budget"... Where's the impact of the much dreaded economic sanctions...? Has Big Brother succeeded at isolating India as a rogue state...?


There's no better guide to the people's faith than the stock exchange: When Atalji's government crashed, so did the Sensex. Later, when he remarked at the CII conference, "I am here before you for the second time... I can assure you that, with the support of the people of India, I shall be with you next year, too, for the third consecutive year," the BSE sensex soared by over 82 points... So, put a sock in it.


It seems, the Shroud's name first entered the voters' list in 1980 -- three years before she became a citizen of India. The electoral rolls of the New Delhi parliamentary constituency were revised in 1980, with January 1 being the qualifying date. One of the families seeking changes in the list were the Gandhis living at 1 Safdarjung Road. Till then, four members of the family were on the rolls: Mrs Indira Gandhi, Rajiv, Sanjay, and Maneka. That year, Sonia's name was registered at serial number 388 in polling station 145 of the constituency.

A Surya Prakash writes: "The Pioneer has ascertained that Sonia Gandhi applied for Indian citizenship on April 7, 1983 and was granted it on April 30, 1983. This means that she finally decided to take up Indian citizenship 15 years after her marriage to Rajiv Gandhi in 1968." We should send a copy of this to Pranab Mukherjee and have him ask the Shroud about her dual citizenship. But I doubt she'd understand. If she can't understand Mulayam's Hindi, no chance of her grasping Mukherjee's appalling Bong-accented tongue.

There's more to the tale: The electoral fraud -- and there's no other word for it -- was exposed in 1982 by Surya India, a magazine edited by Maneka. After the scandal broke, the Chief Electoral Officer was forced to remove the foreign national from the rolls. Meaning, the Shroud had illegally remained a voter for almost three years.

Sonia re-entered the voters' list in 1983. But even this entry is questionable since the qualifying date for entering the rolls was January 1, 1983 -- and the Shroud was granted citizenship four months later...


Related swindle: The Shroud was managing director of Maruti Technical Services Private Limited on January 25, 1973. The Foreign Exchange Regulation Act -- prohibiting foreigners from owning shares or accepting appointment in Indian companies without the permission of the Reserve Bank of India -- came into force on January 1, 1974. Yet, Sonia continued as MD and resigned only on January 21, 1975 -- thus violating FERA for over a year.

To top that, she accepted 1,900 shares from MTSPL on February 4, 1974 -- a month after FERA was enforced. Wait! It gets better: The Gandhis launched Maruti Heavy Vehicles Private Limited on February 22, 1974. The Shroud was once again appointed MD, and acquired 5,000 shares in the company, and entered into an agreement with it on September 28, 1974 in regard to her appointment.

The Justice Gupta Commission, which probed the Maruti scandal, noted: "It was a fact known to all concerned that Sonia Gandhi was a foreign national. In view of the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1973, which came into force on January 1, 1974, she could neither hold shares of any Indian company nor hold any office of profit in such company from the date the Act came into force without the prior approval of the Reserve Bank of India. She tendered her resignation on January 21, 1975. It is surprising that Sonia Gandhi who did not have any technical qualification should be appointed managing director of a technical company. Quite a large sum of money was paid to her on account of her salary and perquisites during the period she remained the managing director of the company."

WHAT is the difference between Bina Ramani and Sonia Gandhi? I see none! These are people to whom no rules apply. This is the elite which requires no licence. These are the privileged who don't know what "permission" means. All they need is a string of minions as spin doctors -- and India is a land of minions. I keep remembering the villain from Ram Lakhan who keeps spouting, "India is great." It truly is. For, half the people *are* going to say: So What? So, you idiots, you don't make a con artist a prime minister, that's what. It's one thing to have a person show his base colours once he reaches the spot -- and quite another to anoint a charlatan as leader of the country.

The more I think, the more I'm convinced that the Shroud will smother India: The brow-beaten minorities will vote for her -- since she's a minority among the minorities! And we know where the pinkos' loyalties lie. Then there's the gori chamdi complex which takes care of the larger percentage of Indians (including, I'm sad to say, dear Raj). Which leaves only the fundies. And George. And Karunanidhi. And Chandrababu Naidu. And Mulayam. Hmm... maybe there's hope, after all...

Varsha Bhosle

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