Contrary to some media reports, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's principal secretary is well ensconced in his high perch. Take it from us that he still enjoys Vajpayee's confidence and there is no move afoot to dislodge him.
Even before Dr J K Jain had launched the anti-Mishra campaign, reports had surfaced about 'disillusionment' with his functioning.
It was said he had become too powerful for his own good, too arrogant, and considered himself the real power behind the throne.
Speculation about his impending fall had gained strength following a cogently argued case in a newspaper by well-known strategic affairs expert K Subrahmanyam.
He pointed out it was wrong for Mishra to be the PM's right hand and national security adviser.
Consequently, it was suggested that Mishra quit as principal secretary and devote his undivided energies to the National Security Council. Delhi Lieutenant Governor Vijay Kapur was tipped to step into his shoes.
However, after the Jain campaign, Vajpayee is more determined than ever to stick with Mishra.
Though the principal secretary is said to have often exploited the PM's laid-back attitude and his refusal to go into details, there has been no major breach of trust between, as a senior minister puts it, "the two top brahmins in the government" to warrant Mishra's eviction.
And he's out!
While on the PMO, there has been an exodus from the in-house media set-up. Also, there is a hint of another departure.
Kanchan Gupta, one of the PM's four media advisors and sometime rediff.com columnist, has left for a lucrative assignment with a television software production house in Calcutta.
There is also speculation about the cooling off between the powers that be and the prime minister's senior-most -- age and rank-wise, that is -- media adviser H K Dua. The buzz is that Dua, who has "I" on his lips even when he sleeps, has fallen from grace...
Aware of his growing marginalisation, what with Sudheendra Kulkarni and Kanchan doing most of the writing for Vajpayee, and Ashok Tandon networking with the media, Dua recently made a bid for a diplomatic assignment.
His name was considered and rejected for the ambassador's post in Netherlands. Now he is in the list for a diplomatic assignment to a small South American nation, which has a fair sprinkling of people of Indian origin.
The sealing of polluting units in the capital has led to a bitter blame game.
Sheila Dixit's Delhi government holds the Centre responsible for the mess. And Vajpayee & Co insists that she was amiss in not making arrangements to re-locate the polluting units before the Supreme Court deadline.
The casualties in the battle are the bureaucrats in the Delhi government and municipal corporation. Senior babus have been hauled up for contempt of court.
The bureaucrats, it would seem, were willing to obey the court, but were hamstrung by their political masters. As a senior official in the Delhi government said: "What use is holding me guilty for non-compliance when the actual culprit is my minister, who was against the re-location for political reasons?"
Such, indeed, was the reluctance of the politicians that on the excuse of the Republic Day security bandobast they suspended the re-location exercise. They argued that the requisite number of policemen could not be spared for sealing the offending units.
The day the re-location drive was suspended, Dixit revealed her mind at the home of Rama Pilot, Rajesh Pilot's widow.
"I feel relieved now," said she to Congress bossini Sonia Gandhi. "I can sleep peacefully for a month."
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