Former bureaucrats generally do not make good politicians. The rare one who does enjoys an advantage over run-of-the-mill politicos as s/he can play the games babus sometimes play to upstage netas.
Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha intervened recently in the selection of the Industrial Development Bank of India's next chairman. Sinha, a former IAS officer who quit the civil service some 20 years ago, was not happy with the banker the panel had selected for the IDBI post.
The panel, headed by Banking Secretary Devi Dayal, had recommended Basudeb Sen, currently chairman of the Industrial Investment Bank of India. Sen's name was cleared by Finance Secretary Ajit Kumar and Reserve Bank of India Governor Bimal Jalan.
Having first won his political spurs at the feet of said leader, Sinha found it hard to say no to the ex-premier. So he promised to do whatever he could to consider the former PM's nominee, V P Singh, currently executive director, IDBI.
And that is where Sinha's bureaucratic past came in handy. Aware that selection committees usually send three names for their political masters to pick from, Sinha nixed Sen's selection. Instead, he asked the panel to send him three names in order of merit to replace the present incumbent whose term ends on Wednesday, January 31. Notably, the order of merit is not always binding on ministers.
That the panel had duly considered V P Singh's candidature, among several others, for the job is immaterial. Sinha wants three names. Admittedly, nothing prevents the panel from recommending Sen's name for the job. But given Sinha's preference for Singh it is doubtful if the committee will be courageous not to recommend the latter's name for the post.
New DDA boss soon
Kapur, on the other hand, is only too aware of the political implications of administrative actions and in his subtle way has tempered Jagmohan's zeal to enforce the recent drive to re-locate polluting units in conforming areas. Also, as titular head of the capital's administrative set-up, he is called upon to act as the shock absorber between the BJP-led Centre and Chief Minister Shiela Dixit's Congress-led Delhi government.
Caught in this tug of war is the vice-chairman of the Delhi Development Authority, P K Ghosh. A senior IAS officer of the Gujarat cadre, Ghosh is now being transferred because of the Jagmohan-Kapur tussle.
Admittedly, his three-year tenure at DDA is over. But since he is due for promotion, he wanted to be retained in his present job a little while longer. However, caught between the minister and the LG, Ghosh has failed to get the support of either gent.
Films, financier and Woh
The credibility of the on-going probe by the Mumbai police into Bollywood's alleged nexus with the underworld has been somewhat marred by Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister Chhagan Bhujbal's tendency to settle personal scores. Therefore, a plea was recently made to Union Home Minister L K Advani to hand the case over to the Central Bureau of Investigation so that there could be a fair and impartial probe.
Even jailed film financier Bharat Shah sent word to the central government through a friendly film director that he was ready to come clean provided the case was handed over to a central agency. Shah reportedly did not trust someone very high up in the Maharashtra administration.
Tit for tat
Television is a cruel medium. The other day when Minister of State for Commerce Omar Abdullah and a leader of the All Party Hurriyat Conference found themselves debating the Centre's cease-fire on Kashmir on a television channel, it was only natural that sparks would fly.
After the initial sparring between the two Kashmiri leaders, things got out of hand when Abdullah said the Hurriyat leaders were not relevant to the situation in the valley, since they represented no one but themselves and were only interested in making money.
The Hurriyat leader was quick to return the compliment. Asked he most belligerently, "What was your grandfather (Sheikh Abdullah) before becoming a politician? A mere school master. And now you own so much property." Before the Hurriyat leader could reel off the Abdullah family's assets, the television anchor cut him off mid-sentence. For once, the young Abdullah's sang froid was broken.
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