The call of foreign shores                         Virendra Kapoor

Rare are the men who can resist free foreign travel.

A little bird tells us that Vice-President Krishan Kant, who by sheer good fortune is now a prime candidate for the President's job when K R Narayanan retires two years on, doesn't meet that mark.

According to our reports, the ex-Young Turk is now exploring every possible means to answer his call of foreign shores.

He is reported to nurse a grievance against the foreign office because it sits on the invitations visiting vice-presidents customarily extend him.

Not long ago, the VP had cited his predecessor Narayanan's insistence on chartering Air-India jets for official visits abroad. Since the country's national flag carrier is in dire straits and has a depleted fleet, it is only natural that the government quashes the invitations to the vice-president.

Meanwhile, President Narayanan, fresh from his visit to China, will head for Singapore early next month. In an -- here's the interesting part -- Air-India jet!

Swaraj nods to liquor ads

The change of guard at the information and broadcasting ministry has brought immediate relief to the hard-pressed liquor lobby in the country as also the revenue-starved satellite television channels.

New I&B Minister Sushma Swaraj has, in a tacit understanding with the channels, allowed hard liquor advertisements beyond the October 5 deadline set by her predecessor Arun Jaitley.

Swaraj, who usually makes much public play of her alleged allegiance to family values, is reported to have told her key aides that she is not banning the ads since it wouldn't really reduce liquor consumption.

Instead, she is said to have said, people should be taught to be teetotallers at an early age "through moral and familial education."

No lamps for Kapil

It was a very dull Diwali for cricket's fallen icon, Kapil Dev.

The Haryanvi, known to have a tender corner for gambling with his businessmen friends on festive nights, had a very tame celebration this time around. Can't blame him, the ongoing match-fixing controversy is hardly conducive for such affairs, right?

Even otherwise, the festivities were rather low-key. Hotelier Lalit Suri, who was the nucleus of the nightlong card and dinner sessions in the past years, bemoaned the lack of enthusiasm this year.

Till Diwali eve, he had had no occasion to play cards... contrast this with the past when, with Dev and the Modis and other scions of the rich families, Suri's Diwali calendar was crowded, and you know why he is feeling sorta sad.

B for Mulayam

The break between Amitabh Bachchan and the Gandhi family is complete.

Since Rajiv Gandhi's death, there has been hardly any contact between the Bachchans and the Gandhis.

And now, the Big B, a great friend of Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh, is all set to throw his weight behind Mulayam Singh Yadav's party.

Thus, in the election to the UP assembly, which will become necessary sometime next year, Bachchan is set to campaign actively for SP candidates.

Joothmalani, did you say?

Sacked law minister Ram Jethmalani believes that anyone who is not with him is against him.

That should explain his needless swipe in his much-touted book Big Egos, Small Men at journalist-turned-MP Kuldip Nayar and the latter's advocate son, Rajiv.

Since Nayar had pressed for the outcome of a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into Ram's alleged wrongdoing in the MS Shoes and Sitaram Bharatiya trust land cases, the former minister read a personal motive in it.

In the book Ram says the elder Nayar asked the question because 'he had failed to get his younger son appointed as a high court judge.'

But the truth is that Rajiv, a senior advocate at the Delhi high court, was sounded out about the post long before his father asked the embarrassing question. Since Rajiv had a flourishing practice, he declined the offer.

Sibal spurns Sonia

Congress member of the Rajya Sabha and senior Supreme Court advocate Kapil Sibal, participating in a television panel discussion, was asked to name his favourite woman politician.

The questioner listed the names of some women politicians, including Sonia Gandhi, Sushma Swaraj and Uma Bharati.

Of course Sibal did not name Gandhi -- a fact which his party boss mustn't have failed to notice.

Capital Buzz