Virendra Kapoor

Sushma Swaraj is again -- *sigh* -- sulking.

Her case is that she was not given a Cabinet berth. That she fought bravely against Congress president Sonia Gandhi in Bellary. That earlier she was forced to lead the BJP campaign for the Delhi assembly when the going was ultra tough. Therefore, she contends, she had every right to be a Cabinet minister.

No, no, the posts of the BJP all-India general secretary and spokesperson are not in keeping with her status. Which is why she rejected those and have now decided to bide time till May.

Hey, what's special about May?

Well, that is when the BJP will have its organisational elections. And this former George Fernandes protege, who joined the BJP when she failed to make any headway in the erstwhile Socialist Party in her native Harayana, would seek the top job. With Kushabhau Thakre disavowing any intention to seek a second term as party president, Swaraj has her gaze firmly on his job.

Till then, she and husband Swaraj Kaushal plan to orchestrate a campaign in the media that would bestow victimhood on her.

So what are her chances to step into Thakre frayed shoes like?

Not much, considering her vaunting ambition and her propensity to throw a tantrum whenever denied her way. The Sangh Parivar, you see, sets great store on consensus and self-denial - and even Sushma's hubby will agree that wifey isn't exactly popular or a Gandhian.

A costly lapse

The grand old man of Delhi Congress Jag Parvesh Chandra had all along steered clear of factionalism in his party. He preferred, instead, to play a consensus-builder's role.

But last month Chandra teamed up with the anti-Shiela Dixit elements in the Delhi Congress and thus may have jeopardised his chances of squeezing into Rajya Sabha.

He made common cause with Mohinder Singh Saathi, Sajjan Kumar and a few other prominent Congressmen who were seeking Dixit's ouster as chief minister.

The Dixit camp was quick to react. It let be known that it would not sponsor Chandra's candidature for the RS when three seats fall vacant early next year. Chandra had opted out of the contest for the Delhi assembly last year on being assured a seat.

Given that there are at least half a dozen claimants for the three seats, Chandra, despite the assurance by the party leadership, wasn't certain of getting one. Now, by crossing Dixit's path, he has made his entry into Parliament even more difficult. All because he gave up neutrality in factional fights.

The king who forgot to resign

Scion of the Jammu and Kashmir royal family Karan Singh was made, not so long ago, the chairman of the Indo-French Forum by the Central government with a Cabinet minister's rank.

In that capacity, Singh and his wife made several trips to Paris in great style. In fact, only days before he decided to contest against Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Lucknow, he had gone to Paris. Insiders insist that Singh swore the Congress leadership to secrecy until his return, fearing that Vajpayee might block his junket should it come out that he was to contest as the Congress candidate.

Now, after the polls, bowing to the pressure from the party faithful, the government has quietly removed Singh. Singh, of course, had not offered to resign. A little bird tells us that he is now pressurising the Congress to send him to the Rajya Sabha.

Porn and Jaitley

One of Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Arun Jaitley's first actions after taking over was to lift the ban on the Pakistan television channel, PTV. Almost simultaneously, he banned the popular TB 6, a satellite channel of a former Soviet Union republic.

Reason: TB 6 showed hardcore pornographic movies late in the night, especially on weekends.

Following the ban, Jaitley has been receiving angry and abusive calls, especially on Saturday nights. So much so that he has now taken to sleeping with the phone off the hook.

Incidentally, Jaitley has also been at the receiving end of the dhobis' [washermen's] ire for a television ad which they believe is against their interest. The ad in question aims at making the dhobi profession redundant by popularising a brand of washing machines.

So tell us...

New Delhi Municipal Committee ruffled many a political feather last week when it cut off the electricity to a Rajya Sabha member's residence. You see, he had forgotten to pay his dues.

The said MP ran up nearly Rs 130,000 and showed no sign of paying up. Once his power was cut off, he got hot and bothered, tried threatening the NDMC bosses, and, when the latter stood their ground, tamely paid up!

There were scores of other MPs who had run up huge arrears. Heading the list is none other than Rajesh Pilot, a Lok Sabha member, who owed the NDMC Rs 1.4 million. Following the NDMC's tough stance, Pilot and other defaulters are beginning to cough up.

But where the heck are they getting this kind of money? Will Pilot kindly enlighten us?

Just a rumour

Contrary to the speculation in media circles, the Prime Minister's Office does not propose to bring out a periodical called The PMO Times. A government spokesman categorically nixed the rumour about the weekly.

The rumour had gained currency after the former editor of a Delhi newspaper, H K Dua, was taken on board. Dua was desperately searching for placement after his sack from The Times of India.

With at least three former journalists -- Ashok Tandon, Sudheendra Kulkarni and Kanchan Gupta -- already on the payroll, the speculation that Vajpayee was about to bring out a journal had gained ground.

Interestingly, Dua has been given a full secretary's rank while Tandon enjoys the rank of an additional secretary. Both Kulkarni and Gupta, however, have the relatively middle level rank of director.

Capital Buzz