Heel, Modi!               Virendra Kapoor
   November 30, 2002

Mark our words, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi will pay for it.

What he shouldn't have done, and did, was deny a ticket to Haren Pandya to fight the state assembly election. That has upset bigwigs in the Sangh Parivar, including Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Deputy PM L K Advani.

Insiders say the biggies haven't been able to stomach Modi's threat that if Pandya entered the fray, he would withdraw. Even Arun Jaitley -- Modi's friend, philosopher and guide -- could not get him to ease his stand.

Modi's contention was Pandya was in cahoots with those who blame him for the post-Godhra communal riots.

Given the BJP leadership sets great store on obedience, loyalty and suchlike, Modi's defiance is bound to extract its pound of flesh -- as soon as the election is over, our sources say.

Nix for Sibal?

Kapil Sibal, the eminent lawyer and honourable member of the Rajya Sabha, apparently wanted his party to oppose the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Ordinance when it came for ratification to the Upper House.

The ordinance is aimed at recovering over Rs 700 billion worth of non-performing assets of banks and financial institutions. The money was advanced to borrowers who had since become defaulters, having declared their businesses sick and non-operative.

On the eve of the winter session of Parliament, when Congress bigwigs met to discuss their stand on the ordinance, most speakers argued it would be counterproductive for the party to oppose a measure that sought to recover monies.

Finance Minister Jaswant Singh went on record saying industrialists have looted banks. Other politically sensitive members said it would be suicidal for the Congress to be seen supporting defaulters.

But Sibal persisted with his argument that the Congress should oppose the ordinance, which the Lok Sabha had already passed.

Midway through his speech, former finance minister Dr Manmohan Singh, who was presiding over the meeting, cut him short. Singh told Sibal he should not speak on the issue since he was opposing the measure in a case and, therefore, there was a conflict of interest.

The Congress duly supported the Bill. It is now set to become law.

Walking in... to walk out

A couple of Rajya Sabha MPs from the Congress were gossiping in the Central Hall of Parliament. Suddenly, one of them jumped up and made towards the House, beckoning urgently to his colleagues.

A Congressman said over his shoulder as he hurried out, "We have to walk out in a moment."

Apparently, the Congress had decided to stage a walkout after the government's reply, whatever that be, on the short debate over the Tehelka Commission judge's resignation.

To walk out, you need to walk in first, right?

Bad boys!

Here's an interesting excerpt from the September-October diary of the India International Centre, the prestigious watering hole of New Delhi's creme de la crème:

'It has to be reported, with enormous regret, that the functioning of our library has received a severe jolt. There have been several instances in the recent months of the library rules being blatantly violated -- tearing off pages from newspapers and taking away books without having them issued.

'We had not expected any of our distinguished library users -- among the defaulters are former senior defence services officers and a person who has been an international civil servant -- would resort to such reprehensible practices.

'The library committee has taken a most concerned view of these violations and the offending members have been debarred from using the library for periods ranging from one to six months.'

Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh

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