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The Lotus-Eaters                         Virendra Kapoor
   March 2, 2002

Sab chalta hai

The Sangh Parivar, we have learnt, is mighty unhappy with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

It feels his policy of letting things be has landed the government in a mess.

"Vajpayee," saffron sources say, "is a conformist, a status quoist. He would rather not take the pain of putting things right."

The most telling of the damage caused by Vajpayee's sab chalta hai attitude is the electoral debacle in Uttar Pradesh. Had Rajnath Singh been made UP chief minister soon after Kalyan Singh was removed, the result of the recent poll would have been different, they say.

"It was Vajpayee who foisted the doddering Ram Prakash Gupta as CM," they say. "By the time Singh came in, Gupta had done so much damage that he was unable to turn the tide of public opinion."

Gupta, they point out, had been out of active politics for decades. Vajpayee chose him because he was loath to annoy either of the two main claimants for the post -- Kalraj Mishra and Rajnath Singh.

Similarly, when Uttaranchal came into being, the BJP lost a lot of goodwill when it foisted Nityanand Swami, a convert to the BJP from the Congress who has his roots in Haryana, as its first CM.

"That move annoyed the party rank and file and created a lot of resentment against the BJP among ordinary people," the sources say. "Vajpayee settled for Swami because he did not want to displease either of the claimants from the hills. By the time Bhagat Singh Koshiyari replaced Swami, the damage had been done."

At your service...

Former prime minister Chandra Shekhar is one of those gentlemen who does not mind helping anyone.

Like the other day, he picked up the phone and spoke to police officers in Uttar Pradesh, telling them to stop harassing Vikas Yadav, son of Rajya Sabha member D P Yadav.

Vikas has confessed to the murder of Nitish Katara. Son of an IAS officer, Katara had gone missing after he was seen dancing at a wedding reception with Vikas's sister Bharati.

The new Shylocks

Politicians insist on extracting their pound of flesh, be it the game of cricket or any other facet of human activity.

On the eve of the second Test between India and Zimbabwe at the Ferozeshah Kotla stadium, Delhi Finance Minister Mahinder Singh Saathi sent word to the organisers that he needed 4,000 complimentary tickets -- or else the entertainment tax exemption would be withdrawn!

Officials of the Delhi and Districts Cricket Association went into a tizzy, but eventually haggled with Saathi's minions who settled for some 2,000-odd passes!

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