|August 4, 2001|
Could Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee have prevented the UTI-Cyberspcace Infosys controversy?
Many in the Sangh Parivar believe that was possible, if he hadn't this inherent weakness for people close to him.
Contrary to the established practice, no effort was made to check the antecedents of the company's promoters before the PM consented to inaugurate its operations at a well-advertised function in Lucknow.
That Lucknow is his parliamentary constituency and so he is obliged to cut the ribbon at Cyberspace's launch is a specious excuse -- Lucknow, like any other place, has its share of racketeers.
As for those telephone calls to UTI to invest in this or that company, well, the truth is that practice is as old as UTI!
Middle-level officials in the finance ministry, not-so-senior ones in the Prime Minister's Office and powerful MPs and ministers have routinely buzzed the head of UTI and other governmental institutions like IDBI and IFCI to invest in this or that business house. Ditto for public sector banks.
The present mess started with the appointment of P S Subramanyam as chairman in preference to P J Naik, a man considered so clean that one industrial house used its clout to prevent his appointment.
As to how Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Nirupam got hold of the telephone numbers from where calls were made to Subramanyam, the needle of suspicion points at the former UTI chief.
For one, no one in the government would be interested in revealing those numbers. For another, it was not easy to lay one's hands on those numbers.
Subramanyam not only had the telephone numbers but, more importantly, could have been motivated by the desire to embarrass the government which had jailed him.
Intelligence sources believe Subramanyam gave those numbers to a senior Shiv Sena leader who passed them to Nirupam.
Sangh Parivar purists fault Vajpayee for not having made a whit of difference to the quality of governance. The UTI scandal, they argue, took place because the PM persists with the same old ways of successive Congress regimes.
More on Phoolan
Apropos the Phoolan Devi killing.
Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav had scheduled a press conference on the murder, perhaps to extract some political capital, when word reached him that alleged assassin, Shamsher Singh Rana, had been arrested. Yadav promptly cancelled the press conference.
It is said Phoolan Devi was unhappy with the SP leadership since she believed the party was dominated by Yadavs, and there was no place for other backward castes. Phoolan had shared her anguish with a number of people outside the party.
Please note the new spelling
The empress of Tamil Nadu J Jayalalithaa has added another 'a' to her name on the advice of a numerologist.
Maybe now she will get to be CM for more than six months.
Barred from contesting an election for six years following her conviction in a case of corruption, Jayalalithaa became CM through the backdoor. The Constitution requires she gets elected in six months if she wants to continue in office. And her time ends late October....
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