Mr Governor, IPS                Virendra Kapoor
   January 16, 2002

Though the ruling National Democratic Alliance has nearly 24 constituents, it seems to suffer from a poverty of gubernatorial talent -- or else, why should the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government appoint so many retired policemen and bureaucrats as state governors?

Of the 28 President's men, 10 are ex-politicians. Former officials and men in uniform, including three former Cabinet secretaries, six retired policemen and three generals, make up the rest.

Two of the cops were appointed just a few days ago: P S Ramamohan Rao to Tamil Nadu and former Intelligence Bureau chief Shyamal Dutta to Nagaland.

The other ex-IPS officers in power are Girish Chandra 'Garry' Saxena in Jammu & Kashmir, Arvind Dave in Arunachal Pradesh, Ved Marwah in Manipur and D N Sahay in Chhattisgarh.

And at least two more of their ilk -- Mukund Behari Kaushal and Nikhil Kumar, both former Delhi police commissioners -- hope to be accommodated in some such sinecure soon.

Coming to armymen, we have Generals S K Sinha in Assam, J F R Jacob in Punjab and K M Seth in Tripura.

Then there is former Reserve Bank governor C Rangarajan at the Raj Bhavan in Andhra Pradesh, and a veteran from the Rajya Sabha secretariat V S Ramadevi in Karnataka.

In the name of the Big B...

The Samajwadi Party is keen to win Uttar Pradesh. So much so that it is ready to use the appeal of Bollywood biggie Amitabh Bachchan.

Thus, thousands of videocassettes of a recent function in Allahabad, where the SP mayor accorded a civic reception to Bachchan and his wife Jaya, are now being distributed in the state.

At the function, Bachchan made an appeal for the SP, in a roundabout manner. Since then, there have been more attempts to rope him in to campaign.

Advani tales

Prabhu Chawla, group editor of Living Media India Ltd, which owns India Today and the Aaj Tak television channel, was the sole journalist to accompany Home Minister L K Advani on his visit to the United States.

Chawla and an Aaj Tak cameraman travelled with the home minister. All their expenses were borne by the Living Media Group and not by the government, though in the past journalists accompanying the foreign minister have had their travel and accommodation bills picked up by official agencies.

Only a very small team of eight officials accompanied Advani. Although first-class passengers are allowed to take a companion at a fraction of the cost of the original ticket, no member of the Advani family went with him.

Meanwhile, Advani is under tremendous pressure to shift his home from Pandara Park to a more secure area in Delhi. Intelligence agencies have tried to impress on him the need to move out of the house he has lived in for the last 31 years, since the time he first became a Rajya Sabha member. But Advani is yet to be convinced.

Papa Prez

Dignitaries normally avoid going to the airport to receive, or see off, their wards. But not President K R Narayanan.

He insists on personally seeing his diplomat daughter Chitra, India's ambassador to Sweden, to her flight, and also on receiving her.

The President's presence, naturally, disturbs the normality at the airport. But Narayanan continues to go over.

The last time he did that was a few weeks ago, when, due to thick fog over Delhi, the ambassador's plane was delayed by more than two hours, forcing the President to cool his heels in the VVIP lounge.

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