Orator, we know Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as.
But writer? Not really.
Then who fashioned that historic and "graceful" -- as The New York Times would have it -- epistle that took Pakistan Chief Executive Pervez Musharraf's bark away?
Folks, meet Jaswant Singh. Minister for external affairs/defence and master letter-writer.
Singh put pen to paper after a broad discussion with the PM about the contents. But it was Vajpayee who incorporated the line about poverty being the common enemy of both India and Pakistan.
Union Home Minister L K Advani, active in ending the unilateral ceasefire in Kashmir and inviting the general over, was shown the final draft. And he liked what he saw.
Others fortunate to have a dekko at the cleverly crafted letter were the PM's Principal Secretary, Brajesh Mishra and PMO official Sudheendra Kulkarni.
Singh's job, it would appear, was so masterful that neither could suggest even a change of comma.
Observers were quick to notice that in sharp contrast to Vajpayee's poetry in prose, Musharraf's letter accepting the invitation read most pedestrian. Ah, well, there are not many like Singh around.
Save Our Homes!
A 100-odd journalists, who were recently asked to vacate government houses in Delhi, are lobbying hard to have the order cancelled.
Notably, though the urban welfare ministry issued the order, none of the scribes approached Minister Jagmohan, given his reputation for enforcing the law come what may.
Instead, they are sidling up to senior BJP leaders to pressurise him to withdraw the order.
Several journos known for their association with the Sangh Parivar too have been served eviction notices. A couple of them recently pleaded with a senior RSS official to "save us from being rendered homeless". But when the RSS biggie learnt that the two were not singled out for eviction, he refused to intercede.
Several journalists have continued to occupy government houses long after retirement. Indeed, some have retained these houses even though they no longer live in the capital.
A photographer in his mid-70s still occupies his subsidised ground floor house a stone's throw away from India Gate. Another print journalist, who used to put pen to paper two whole decades ago, occupies a ministerial-level house. And so goes the list...
Mr Vested Interest
Here's the latest on what really happened at the now-famous Vajpayee-Advani lunch.
Seems the top two BJP leaders were victims of vested interests. In which regard, a scribe-turned-MP's role was the most, well, commendable.
Vajpayee and Advani were unaware till very recently that the said person on whom they had relied had betrayed the Sangh Parivar to stay out of jail during the Emergency.
Besides him, the role of a couple of others claiming to be well-wishers was exposed when the duo bared their hearts to each other.
Spin-off for Bindra
Sometimes, even a careless remark can stand you in good stead.
If that's hard to swallow, look at former Board of Control for Cricket in India chief Inderjit Singh Bindra.
At the height of Cricketgate, Bindra alleged -- among many other things -- that matches at Sharjah were fixed.
Of course, he hadn't named any name, nor offered evidence. Still, the Sharjah cricket authorities thought it worthwhile to order an inquiry, and requested Bindra to testify.
Bindra was happy to oblige -- the inquiry was in London and it was much cooler there than in the Indian summer.
And so he was flown first class from Chandigarh to London. The Sharjah authorities offered to put him at a five-star hotel. They were also eager to pay him a handsome daily allowance.
Bindra was pleased. But could they raise the daily allowance if he made his own arrangements to stay in London?
Agreed, said the Sharjah cricket bosses.
Bindra bunked with a relative. He did put in an appearance before the inquiry committee, though he didn't have much to tell them.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi, a former bureaucrat, showed no compunction in ordering out of the Chhattisgarh Bhavan in New Delhi a couple of bureaucrats belonging to the Madhya Pradesh cadre.
Jogi's family, meanwhile, has a free run of the Bhavan and its many services.
Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh
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