Virendra Kapoor

At Atal Bihari Vajpayee's swearing-in, a couple of questions were on everyone's lips.

Question 1: Why wasn't any of the three bigwigs of the Delhi BJP, namely, Madan Lal Khurana, Vijay Kumar Malhotra and Sahib Singh Verma taken into the ministry?

Answer: Verma, being a Jat, was short-listed for inclusion in the ministry. Khurana and Malhotra were not. The latter two ganged up and warned the leadership of dire consequence if Verma was taken in and they were left out. So all three were dumped!

Question 2: How come Jagmohan again became a minister after Vajpayee decided to drop him following his me-first role in the telecom controversy?

Answer: Jagmohan had the RSS bigwigs pull strings for him. Those simple-minded fellows believe that India still retains Kashmir due to Jagmohan!

Question 3: How did Ram Jethmalani , who represents none except himself, return to the ministry, especially when Vajpayee had decided to dump him following his controversial conduct and the scarcity of ministerial posts?

Answer: Ask Union Home Minister L K Advani. Jethmalani successfully defended him in the hawala case.

Maybe they will be rid of Jethmalani when his Rajya Sabha term ends early next year.

Secularist superstition

For the superstitious who read meanings into silly things like a black cat crossing one's path, here is an incident worth noting.

Haryana Chief Minister Om Parkash Chautala left his front seat in the middle of the swearing-in ceremony to ease himself. Since the toilet was some 150 yards away, and since he walks with a pronounced limp, nobody could help but notice his progress to the loo.

Seeing Chautala limping back to his seat, a senior 'secularist' journalist instantaneously declared, "This government will not last its full term. At the last swearing-in here, Chautala had left for the loo and came back in similar fashion. I give only two years to the government now..."

A case of secularist superstition, this?

Wrong number!

Poor Buta Singh.

After winning his Lok Sabha seat yet again from Rajasthan, he returned to Delhi. Keen to keep his Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in good humour, he rushed to Rajasthan Bhavan on learning that the CM was in town.

Armed with a huge bouquet and a box of sweets, Singh asked an orderly for direction to the CM's room. He was directed, all right -- to the wrong room. Instead of Gehlot, he found himself in former chief minister and BJP leader Bhairon Singh Shekhawat's presence. He could hold back neither the bouquet nor the box of mithai.

"For Vajpayee's return to power," Singh said, as he handed over his offerings!

Experience is the key

Prannoy Roy wouldn't like it. The anchor of the Star News television channel would, we are sure, baulk at the idea of the 'communalist' BJP putting his advertisement campaign to very good use. But that is precisely what happened.

At an election-related rally, BJP general secretary Narendra Mody and other lesser leaders exhorted the voters to "rely on Vajpayee" because "he relies on experience."

For the uninitiated, this is a take off on Star News' catch-line in their ads: 'Rely on us. Because we rely on experience."

B for Bofors

This ghost, the ghost of Bofors, simply refuses to be exorcised.

Several months after the Central Bureau of Investigation was given the go-ahead at the highest level to file chargesheet against Italian wheeler-dealer Ottavio Quattarochhi and a few others, it is yet to get on with the job. It's not clear whether the CBI is delaying the chargesheet on its own or under pressure from someone.

But if the CBI fails to get its act together, a public interest litigation is likely to be filed soon.

A few months before it was pulled down, the Vajpayee government had directed the CBI to prosecute Quattarochhi and a few others. BJP leaders believed that Congress president Sonia Gandhi decided to pull down Vajpayee the day she learnt that the prime minister had given the green signal for the chargesheet.

The decision to prosecute Quattorochhi was a closely guarded secret with only four people -- Vajpayee, Union Home Minister L K Advani, then home secretary B P Singh and Cabinet Secretary Prabhat Kumar -- being privy to it. Singh was soon removed from his post on the unconfirmed suspicion that he had leaked the decision to a senior Congress leader, who in turn, informed Sonia. Panicky, she decided to team up with All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam's J Jayalalitha against Vajpayee, according to BJP leaders.

It is six months since that order. Looks like it will take a PIL to get the CBI to act.

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