It took 25 years for a set of people to claim they had valiantly opposed Indira Gandhi's Emergency, but come out they did while the real heroes lay low.
There was this BJP MP glibly boasting on a television channel that she and her husband, an MP from another party opposed to the BJP, had shifted base to defend victims of the Emergency. And that had she had been personally directed by Jayaprakash Narayan to carry on the struggle against the Emergency.
The truth, however, was that they had left their old town in order to avoid being arrested during the Emergency since they were members of the now defunct Socialist Party.
Then there was this former journalist (now a BJP member of the Rajya Sabha) who claimed on another television channel that he brought out the special edition of the then Jan Sangh daily, Motherland on June 26, 1975, announcing Indira Gandhi's foul deed to the world.
The paper's editor, K R Malkani, a former BJP MP, who was also on the same show, interrupted his colleague and spilt the beans, saying, "False, false," and, before the cameras, named the journalist who had brought out the special supplement almost single-handedly. Malkani had been arrested hours before the Emergency was imposed.
As it happens in such matters, the real heroes go unsung and unheralded. Does anyone remember the strapping Madhya Pradesh youth who broke the police cordon at a welcome parade for Sanjay Gandhi and slapped the Youth Congress leader's cheek, shouting loudly, Gantantra Zindabad (Hail Democracy)? Or the Jan Sangh student leader in Bareilly who had all his hand and toe nails pulled out with pincers because anti-Emergency pamphlets were found in his possession.
Why, in all the hype over the 25th anniversary of the Emergency, does no one mentioned the name of Janata Party president Dr Subramanian Swamy, then a Jana Sangh Rajya Sabha MP?
Dr Swamy thumbed his nose contemptuously at the Emergency powers and vanished from the Rajya Sabha. Indira Gandhi's super sleuths moved heaven and earth to lay their hands on him but in vain...
But now, it is the fakes who come forward to claim the laurels.
Mark this practice
It is admission time in schools and colleges in the capital. And your first-rate performance in the qualifying exam is no guarantee that you can get admitted in the course and institution of your choice.
Like there is this child who had barely managed to get 60 per cent in the 10th class CBSE examination and was yet admitted to one of the best public schools in the capital.
Why? Simple, her parents had the good sense to grease the right palm.
Calling card for dental floss
When it comes to manners, senior ministers in the Vajpayee government can never be faulted.
External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh, Commerce Minister Murasoli Maran, Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha and Law Minister Ram Jethmalani in particular exhibit exemplary behaviour when dealing with visitors. They stand up to greet their visitors and, at the end of the meeting, walk them to the door to see them off.
In sharp contrast, quite a few senior bureaucrats not only behave insolently but at least one of them is known for his boorishness towards visitors. A senior secretary in the Prime Minister's Office is known to keep his visitors waiting well past the scheduled time of the meeting. This is his way of pulling rank.
But the bureaucrat who really takes the cake for bad manners is T S Vijayaraghavan, currently secretary, department of heavy industry. He delights in picking his teeth with the calling card of his visitors, most of them heads of public sector undertakings.
The 1965 IAS officer folds the calling card of the visitor in front of him into two or three and removes food particles stuck between his teeth.
Recently, one offended visitor told the secretary what he felt and stormed out in anger. Vijayaraghavan was stunned that he could be thus ticked off, but he can't help continuing the habit.
It must be some devilishly sticky lunch he has...
So what is Dhananjay up to?
Union Minister of State for Finance Dhananjay Kumar has already acquired a very interesting reputation.
He has been transferring and changing the posts of senior officials in the revenue department so often that it raised some dicey questions.
When reports about Kumar's doings reached the prime minister, Vajpayee reportedly asked Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha to keep an eye on his junior. So Sinha now vets all decisions about key postings and transfers emanating from Kumar's office.
Kumar didn't help his case much when he recently visited Bombay and attended a luncheon organised by a Congressman close to former Union home minister S B Chavan. The host had specially invited several revenue department officials, apparently to advertise his proximity to the minister and his minions.
The pariah 35
A confidential circular issued by Central Bureau of Investigation Director R K Raghavan advises senior bureaucrats to keep certain 'undesirable elements' at a distance.
Apparently, Raghavan has specifically names 35 individuals who, he said, senior bureaucrats should not meet in their official capacity. Secretaries heading various ministries, in turn, have asked their senior colleagues to try and avoid meeting the 35 people listed in Raghavan's circular.
When a minister heard of the circular, he sought a copy of it. However, the secretary outwitted him by writing on his copy of the circular that 'no photocopies of this circular can be made' before allowing the minister to have a look at it. It turns out that the minister, a recent recruit to the BJP, is particularly close to at least four people named in the circular.
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