Virendra Kapoor

The BJP is trying hard to live down the brief, but disgraceful, Bangaru Laxman era.

The new party chief, Jana Krishnamurthy, is fully steeped in the Sangh culture. A simple and straightforward man with few needs, he is a far cry from his disgraced predecessor.

Again, unlike Laxman, Krishnamurthy is nobody's idea of a rubber-stamp.

If Laxman was led by the nose by minor officials at the Prime Minister's Office, Krishnamurthy is for his own boss.

Of course, in true Sangh Parivar tradition, he consults senior party colleagues before taking major decisions.

In sharp contrast, Laxman either acted on his own or took orders from Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the man who made Bangaru party chief in the hope of keeping the BJP apparatus under his control.

The much discussed presidential address that Laxman read out at the BJP's Nagpur plenary session, wherein he said Muslims were 'the blood of our blood and flesh of our flesh' was written for him by a middle-level official at the PMO.

Almost one of his first acts on becoming BJP chief was to replace the security agency at the party headquarters at 11, Ashoka Road with another agency. He then had his office done up in the most gaudy manner, re-tiling the floor, painting walls, installing grotesque fittings and furniture and adding an ante room for an after-lunch siesta.

Krishnamurthy does not want to have anything to do with Laxman's room. Even party general secretaries are loathe to move into it, preferring to occupy cubby holes in the wall rather than sit in the vulgarly done up Laxman suite.

The presidential suite and ante room stay locked up till Krishnamurthy decides what to do with it.

The most significant change in the BJP is that L K Advani is once again the party's patron saint.

Advani had chosen to play a low key role in organisational affairs after Laxman was installed as party chief by Vajpayee.

Laxman hardly felt the need to consult Advani whose stewardship brought the party to power at the Centre, taking it from two seats in the 1984 general election to 191 in the 1998 parliamentary poll.

Funds abroad?

The Enforcement Directorate is reportedly inquiring into the antecedents of an account allegedly held by an Indian politician in a bank in the British Virgin Islands, a British colony in the West Indies.

According to information available with the ED, the account was opened in 1997 with a deposit of US $ 1.5 million.

The nominee mentioned in the account is a business partner of the said politician. The Directorate is aware of the bank's name, but loathe to part with the information because it does not want to hinder its investigation.

Why does Atal like Nandu so much?

Madan Prasad Jaiswal, the BJP member of the Lok Sabha from Bettiah in Bihar, is a disillusioned man.

He cannot fathom why Vajpayee is so fond of the controversial IAS officer, Nand Kishore Singh, so as to retain him in the PMO even after the latter retired from the civil service.

Jaiswal is upset that Vajpayee directed him to absent himself from the House on the day his starred question on civil servants was scheduled as the first on the question hour roster.

The question was:

i. Whether it is true that the Chief Vigilance Commissioner has made a list of IAS and IPS officers of doubtful integrity?;
ii. If so, what are their names?; and
iii. Where are they posted currently?

Two days before the question was to come up in the Lok Sabha, Jaiswal was told by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pramod Mahajan to absent himself when his question came up.

Jaiswal said no.

A day later, Vajpayee asked Jaiswal to absent himself from the House when the question came up, apparently so that no oral supplementaries could be asked. Clearly, the PMO, which has provided a powerful perch for Nandu Singh, did not wanted to be embarrassed.

Caricatures: Uttam Ghosh

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