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A time for terror...                         Virendra Kapoor

A Kashmiri militant group with its headquarters in a neighbouring country has sought to target some of the capital's most famous landmarks.

According to messages intercepted by the intelligence agencies, among the buildings the outlawed group wants to blow up are South Block and North Block, which house the offices of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Home Minister L K Advani.

Also on the terrorists' list is the high-profile shopping-cum-high rise office complex in Connaught Place and Connaught Circus.

A big hand for Jagmohan

Who says individuals do not matter, that things have gone so bad that no one can check the rot?

Individuals do matter. Immensely. Union Minister for Urban Development Jagmohan is proof of that.

But for him Delhi would still be a mela of disease and squalor caused by environmental pollution, even as more and more illegal buildings came up.

True, in order to muffle the opposition in his own party and the Congress, Jagmohan needed the support of courts. Fortunately, the highest court in the land not only paid him handsome compliments on record but provided judicial backing too.

Not many people know that Jagmohan's zeal for law enforcement is even-handed, that he has been equally tough in cases concerning fellow politicians.

Thus, close to a hundred illegal occupants of government bungalows have been forced to vacate their houses. A large number of those forced out were former MPs and ministers.

One such man who tried every trick in the trade to cling to his huge ministerial bungalow was the junior minister in the P V Narasimha Rao government, Matang Singh.

Singh sought political intervention to avoid his eviction. He even cited 'security threat' from northeastern extremists to retain his bungalow.

But a determined Jagmohan eventually succeeded in forcing Singh out of the Teen Murti Lane bungalow.

Earlier, the no-nonsense minister had cancelled the allotment of spacious bungalows to several signboard political parties. And arranged to collect huge rental arrears from certain other political organisations and individuals.

Shotgun plays hookey

The outcome of the vote in the Rajya Sabha on the prime minister's Ayodhya-related statements was not surprising.

But the Treasury benches were taken aback at the margin of their loss. As many as nine members supporting the ruling NDA were absent.

Former Law Minister Ram Jethmalani, who in a forceful speech effectively demolished the Opposition case for the removal of the three ministers named in the Ayodhya case, did not care to be present for the vote.

As many as four BJP members played hookey at the crucial time. Of these, the party did not want to summon Rajnath Singh, the Uttar Pradesh chief minister, who continues to be a member of the Rajya Sabha.

Another BJP member, V P Singhal, the brother of Vishwa Hindu Parishad president Ashok Singhal, was abroad.

But there was no explanation for the absence of the other two BJP members. Namely, Shatrughan Sinha and Kailash Joshi.

Sinha was reportedly in Patna on the day of the vote and could have easily made it back if so inclined. And Joshi, a former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, was in Lucknow.

Making light

Once you acquire celebrity status you tend to put a gloss over your past follies.

The other day at a Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry function in the capital, Haryana Chief Minister Om Parkash Chauthala sought to make light of the charge that several years ago he was caught smuggling in some two dozen wrist watches.

Referring to the free import of foreign goods from all over the world, Chauthala recalled his first foreign visit.

"My friends in my village asked me to get them wrist watches and I like a fool bought 20-odd watches at 10 to 15 dollars a piece. While coming out of the Delhi airport I was stopped by the Customs... From that day on, my opponents have nicknamed me ghadi smuggler! Now far better watches are freely available in India," said he, much to the amusement of his audience.

Jaya for Ajay

Samata Party president Jaya Jaitley protests too much.

Ever since her daughter's fiancÚ Ajay Jadeja was named a key suspect in the match-fixing scam, the lady has made it her mission to ensure that he escapes without a blemish.

Surprisingly, she is at pains to deny that she has been trying to save Jadeja. She had even mustered support for a Public Interest Litigation against his 'unfair omission' from the national squad at a recent dinner by one of the capital's more successful liaison men.

Earlier, Jaitley had personally pleaded Jadeja's case with a Cabinet minister. Her friend and Defence Minister George Fernandes, though a little embarrassed by her zeal to protect the cricketer, has been a party to the campaign, though a very reluctant one.

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