Virendra Kapoor

Let's put it this way: Brajesh Mishra is now half the man he was a while ago.

The man who was considered the 'Super PM' because the real one, Atal Behari Vajpayee, has no patience for details, is on the back foot.

There has been much speculation about Mishra's fate after the Tehelka sting operation. But Mishra somehow managed to cling on as the PM's principal secretary and National Security Advisor.

But finally, his luck seems to have run out. For all practical purposes he has no say in the National Security Council.

The change in Mishra's role was clear from the latest turn in Kashmir affairs.Though he had played a key role in the declaration of a unilateral cease-fire, since then he has been virtually out of the process.

It was Mishra who inducted former Research and Analysis Wing chief A S Daulat as advisor in the PMO. Daulat was supposed to assist him in fashioning the government's Kashmir policy.

Such was Mishra's clout before Tehelka spoilt it that even Home Minister L K Advani had chosen to stay out of the Kashmir deliberations.

But now, with the PM under great pressure to set his house in order, and his critics baying for Mishra's blood, Vajpayee first inducted Planning Commission Deputy Chairman K C Pant to broker a peace with Kashmir militants.

Mishra found himself completely cut off once Advani assumed command of the deliberations. Advani and Pant are now chalking out the Centre's Kashmir policy.

Advani, notably, began to take active interest in the peace process a few days after his famous luncheon meeting with Vajpayee at his [Advani's] Pandara Park home. It will now be the Advani-Pant duo that decides whether to extend the unilateral cease-fire in the valley after May 31.

Vajpayee, we are told, has confided in several confidants his keenness to replace Mishra as the NSA. A couple of names have been short-listed, and it is likely that Mishra will be stripped of that charge before the monsoon session of Parliament.

The second coming

Just when Vincent George thought he had finished his innings at 10, Janpath, he has been re-recruited -- though no one seems to know the measure of his power this time around.

George, who had earlier been Congress president Sonia Gandhi's all-powerful aide, was shown the door when the CBI filed a case against him for amassing wealth disproportionate to his income.

George and his wife Lily mostly confined themselves to their government home in Chanakyapuri during his banishment from power. His number of visitors came down substantially during those days, though Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi kept in regular touch.

But now, the lady at 10, Janpath has called him back. Some say it is only because she prefers a happy George to an unhappy one.

George was privy to much inside information and if he isn't kept happy he could well decide sing a few songs, you see.

Khurana their saviour

Not all is well with the Delhi BJP.

The Punjabi lobby therein desperately wants to remove Delhi chief Mangeram Garg, but he has the ears of the all-powerful local RSS establishment.

BJP vice-president Madan Lal Khurana is the Punjabi lobby's favourite. This group believes the party's fortunes will be on the downswing unless drastic steps are taken to re-energise the cadres in Delhi. And only Khurana is capable of this feat, they say.

If Vajpayee can, so can I

Even as the prime minister contemplates a second surgery, former Delhi assembly speaker Chartilal Goel has gone ahead and had both his knees fixed at a New Delhi hospital.

The senior Goel, father of Vijay, a BJP Lok Sabha member, was heartened by Vajpayee's example. In fact, he decided to go in for the operation only after he found that Vajpayee's knee, much senior to his, had come through fine.

Maybe, Madanlal Khurana, who has been pinning his hope on alternative medicine and yoga, too will consider surgery on his painful knees.

Soni + A

The fall of Vincent George and the rise of Ambika Soni, a trenchant critic of Sonia and her late husband Rajiv Gandhi not long ago, at 10 Janpath has caused much heartburn among Congressmen. One of them expressed his consternation thus:

"Now, Soni + A is Sonia for us."

Caricatures: Uttam Ghosh

Capital Buzz