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|April 9, 2002|
Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha's time is up.
We have it from reliable sources that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee will go for a Cabinet reshuffle soon after the ongoing Budget session of Parliament. The idea is to 'punish some and reward others.'
"A pucca change will be Sinha's transfer out of finance," a source told us. "Who will take his place is not clear yet... It could either be Divestment Minister Arun Shourie or Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh."
As for the proposal to draft Home Minister L K Advani back into the Bharatiya Janata Party in place of Jana Krishnamurthy as its president, there has been a rethink. Though Advani is personally keen on it, not so Vajpayee -- and, so, the No 2 will remain No 2 for now.
What the leaders want, instead, is to induct a prominent BJP minister as party president. RSS boss K S Sudarshan favours Information and Broadcasting Minister Sushma Swaraj for that job.
"Swaraj has been wooing Sudarshan over a period of time," insiders told us. "It was his personal intervention that led to her return to the Vajpayee government some time ago."
Sudarshan, for his part, believes Swaraj can be the perfect foil to Congress boss Sonia Gandhi. The former is a street-smart politician, with a way with words; the latter, still a babe in the political woods, utterly lost without her speechwriter.
"Besides," said a Sangh insider, "it suits the Brahminical RSS chief, since Sushma too is a Brahmin."
Incidentally, Swaraj's elevation is unlikely to please younger elements in the party -- among them, Information Technology Minister Pramod Mahajan and Law Minister Arun Jaitley.
Cine star-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha, rewarded with a second term in the Rajya Sabha, is about to realise his life-long dream -- a Cabinet berth.
To be truthful, the PM isn't too fond of Sinha. But now that another Sinha is out of favour, Vajpayee proposes to give his namesake a chance. At least, that's what sources close to the star hope...
The bad Samaritan
Though Maharashtra Governor P C Alexander is a runner in the forthcoming Presidential race, his chances of making it are extremely thin.
The reason: Congress boss Sonia Gandhi reckons the country isn't ripe yet for having, simultaneously, a Christian President and a Christian prime minister.
Gandhi believes prime ministership is within her grasp now that the BJP is mucking up. And being a considerate lady, she doesn't want to give double offence to the Sanghwallahs and other critics by playing good Samaritan to a fellow Christian.
What's in a name?
How much faith can you put in the report of the all-party delegation that visited Gujarat recently?
None, if you go by what local Congress bosses did.
They smuggled in decoy victims to run down the Narendra Modi government when the hon'ble members came visiting. Unfortunately, BJP member of the Rajya Sabha Surinder Singh Ahluwalia caught on and buttonholed a couple of them at a camp in Ahmedabad, right in front of Sonia Gandhi.
Shiv Sena and Indian Union Muslim League representatives enacted an even more tragicomic scene on their visit. The first thing the two fact-finders on approaching a riot victim asked was his/her name. And if that revealed the 'wrong' religion, they shrank away if they had touched a live wire!
Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh
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