Virendra Kapoor

Ram Jethmalani Take it from us, folks, former law minister Ram Jethmalani speaks from both corners of his mouth.

He faulted Attorney General Soli Sorabjee for giving his opinion in a couple of private matters, albeit with the law minister's permission.

The same Jethmalani, however, had no problem about one of his hand-picked senior law officers, S B Jaisinghani, representing private parties.

Additional Solicitor General Jaisinghani was Jethmalani's junior when he was practising in Bombay. Jaisinghani has taken up private briefs at least 17 times -- all with the law minister's permission, aka Jethmalani.

Meanwhile, a Bombay-based law ministry official has complained of the ASG's conduct. The complaint lists the unprintable abuse in Hindi Jaisinghani allegedly hurls at senior officials.

Jethmalani's parting sermon about doing away with the "excessive secrecy" in government departments was at odds with his earlier stand as urban development minister: in a letter to the Central Bureau of Investigation, he had sought action against ministry officials who had passed on official documents to his bete noire, Subramanian Swamy.


L K Advani Union Home Minister L K Advani is probably the most scrupulous politician around today.

Known for his integrity, Advani makes sure that his family stays out of the limelight. His son Jayant, a self-employed small-scale entrepreneur, and daughter Pratibha,, who works for a television production house, are a model politician's children. The two are known not to exploit their father's name.

Therefore, one was surprised to hear that Pratibha's employer was using her name to get appointments with senior officials. Recently, one read the said employer's name in a senior government official's appointment diary -- accompanied, of course, by that of Advani's daughter.

The Hall of Wit

The Central Hall of Parliament comes to life only when the two Houses are in session.

Members, present and former, senior scribes, working and superannuated, form one big gossip club, exchanging news and rumours over hugely subsidised platters of food and fresh juice, coffee and tea. The following three gems were picked up in an hour from the Hall of Gossips.

Number 1
The inane charge by the perennially unhappy member of Bansi Lal's Haryana Vikas Party, Swaraj Kaushal (whose better claim to fame is that he is BJP member Sushma Swaraj's husband) that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee would take an elephant and a donkey with him on his forthcoming visit to the US, was nixed by a senior BJP leader.

For the uninitiated, the elephant is the symbol of the Republicans and the ass that of the Democrats.

"Instead," said the BJP leader, "Vajpayee will give those two seats in his aircraft to Swaraj and his wife."

Number 2
"The best divestment that the government has done so far is to get rid of Ram Jethmalani."

Number 3
Congress member from Assam, Santosh Mohan Deb: " I may have no quarrel with the statement that Vajpayee is one of the cleanest prime ministers that we have had, but look who is issuing that certificate -- of all the people, Pramod Mahajan!"

Meat turns into beef for freeloaders

Journalists often behave as if they too, like most politicians they keep company with, are a law unto themselves.

A petition filed in the Delhi high court last week lays bare the tactics some Fourth Estate members use to browbeat the public.

A senior journalist accompanied by a couple of friends went to a popular south Delhi eatery. Reaching the restaurant-cum-bar complex around noon, their beer-and-gin lunch extended well into the afternoon. Finally ready to leave around 1600 hours IST, they called for the bill. Which came to about Rs 4,000.

The journalist refused to pay, insisting that the 'happy hour' discount be given to him. The manager explained that discount was available to patrons reaching the restaurants after 1500 hours, not for those coming at peak time and lingering on late into the 'happy hours'.

In the ensuing argument, the journalist accused the restaurant of serving him cow's meat instead of mutton. Much wrangling later, the journalist paid the bill but only after threatening the restaurant of dire consequences.

Within an hour a police party visited the restaurant to pick up a sample of meat. The journalist, it appeared, had supplied the police what he said was a sample of the beef he had been served.

The examination of the two samples revealed that the one given by the police was mutton whereas the one from the journalist was beef.

The incident did not end there. The journalist had his one-sided version published in a major Delhi newspaper. Without cross-checking, the report named the restaurant. Further trouble ensued when certain groups claiming to speak for the Hindus sought to extort money from its owner. They threatened to picket the restaurant.

Worse was to follow. Junior-level officials of the municipal corporation demanded bribes, saying the restaurant had served gau mass [cow's meat]. As the petition in the Delhi high court states, everyone was out to extort money and generally harass the restaurant-owner.

And all this thanks to a journalist!

Capital Buzz

Tell us what you think of this feature