Critics of the Sangh Parivar may find it hard to believe, but it is true that senior RSS and BJP functionaries are totally embarrassed by the Water controversy.
From Home Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani to RSS chief Professor Rajinder Singh and his number two K S Sudershan, almost everyone was against stopping director Deepa Mehta in Varanasi. However they could do very little when local activists took matters into their own hands.
The pros and cons of the controversy, including the discordant note struck by BJP general secretary K N Govindacharya and Bhopal MP Uma Bharti have been discussed threadbare in the higher echelons of the Parivar. No less than Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee conveyed his strong disapproval at how the shooting was prevented.
Whatever doubts Advani might have had about Water were removed once Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley narrated to him the core of the script. Of course, Mehta had sought to depict Varanasi and the treatment of widows in rather bad light.
Yet, the top leaders did not want the shooting of the film to be disrupted, especially after five specific exchanges were removed by Mehta.
The upshot of Water has the Sangh Parivar worried. Its failure to contain the agitation in Varanasi has at last made it appreciate the need to try and control motley groups speaking and acting in its name.
What has proved particularly galling to the top brass is that despite the active involvement of the spouse of a UP government minister in the agitation, they failed to keep it within reasonable limits. An interesting battle looms ahead between the leaders and its wayward followers when the former tries to put back the Hindutva genie back into the bottle.
Of heroes and dons
At least three Bollywood stars are in touch with an underworld don based in the Middle East.
Sources in the Central Bureau of Investigation are emphatic that these men of the silver screen are in constantly contact with the Abu Saleem gang. It seems the calls made and received on the stars's cellular phones are regularly monitored by the sleuths.
In fact, a senior CBI official, who had investigated a film star's alleged activities, told him to be careful. Instead of taking this advice in the right spirit, the said star got back to Abu Saleem. The latter in turn blamed a leading film producer for the CBI's renewed interest in watching the stars's activities.
Incensed at what he believed was the source of his renewed troubles, one among the trio lost no time in threatening the said producer. The star is alleged to have threatened to take out a supari to finish him.
Of course, the producer would have been in no such trouble if a senior CBI official had not thought of currying favour with the Bollywood hero by informing him "completely off the record" as to what the agency had gathered about his contacts with the Saleem gang.
Vittal's deep throat
They thought they had buried the hawala case a million fathoms deep -- till Chief Vigilance Commissioner N Vittal sprang a surprise. Now they are hard put to figure out the reason for Vittal's interest in the case.
Admittedly, someone anonymously wrote to Vittal citing the disproportionate assets of quite a few among the former hawala accused and making out a case for further investigations. Vittal lost no time in sending the letter with a forwarding note to the CBI chief. This much the CVC himself has revealed.
But what he has not is the identity of his anonymous correspondent. Government circles have since then zeroed in on it: a senior income tax officer who was keen on promotion to the rank of a full commissioner and instead found himself transferred out of Delhi.
The said IT official had tried in vain to block his transfer to a city in East India. Within a few days of his transfer, Vittal received the material incriminating quite a few hawala accused in the disproportionate assets case.
However contrary to media speculation, no member of the Vajpayee government figures in the matter.
Parivar's two voices
Political observers in the capital have not failed to notice the divergent editorial lines adopted by the RSS weeklies.
While Organiser, the English language weekly, is soft on Vajapayee and castigates the hardliners identified with Advani, its Hindi counterpart, Panchajanya, is generally supportive of Advani while increasingly harsh on Vajpayee.
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