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Virendra Kapoor | July 01, 2004
BSP boss Mayawati is determined not to go to jail. And she is willing to do anything to keep the CBI off her trail in the multi-crore Taj corridor scandal.
It was fear of the CBI that made her play ball with the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in the weeks leading up to the May general election. She even spurned repeated feelers from Congress president Sonia Gandhi to enter into an electoral alliance because the BJP did not want her to do so. The unspoken threat of the CBI going after her was an overriding factor in her decision.
Now, most unexpectedly, roles have reversed. The Congress, as the leading member of the ruling United Progressive Alliance, has come to control the CBI. And so, Mayawati is doing her best to keep the party in good humour!
The BSP vice-president has let it be known to intermediaries trying to bring her closer to the Congress that she isn't averse to doing a deal provided the Congress formally severs its links with Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party and withdraws its support to his government in Uttar Pradesh.
What has lent credence to the talk of an impending BSP-Congress deal is Mayawati's wholly inexplicable decision to
She and Satish Mishra, a former advocate general of UP who is advising her on her legal troubles in the Taj corridor case, have been elected to the Upper House of Parliament on BSP tickets. Should she accept the expected Congress offer to become deputy chairperson of the Rajya Sabha in place of Najma Heptullah, who has been returned to the Upper House for the fifth time in a row, albeit on a BJP ticket from Rajasthan this time, the BSP-Congress deal will stand duly signed and sealed.
That should have far-reaching consequences in electoral alignments throughout northern and western India. The Congress is keen to clinch the deal with the BSP in view of the assembly poll in Maharashtra later this year. In the recent Lok Sabha poll, the BSP had played a major spoiler for the Congress-NCP combine, especially in the Vidarbha region. Though the BSP did not win a single seat, its presence helped the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance to win in several parliamentary constituencies.
Big leaders, petty minds
Politicians can be as petty as anyone else.
When BSP boss Mayawati learnt that the Congress was about to nominate Rashid Alvi as one of its candidates for the biennial election to the Rajya Sabha, she was livid. She immediately got in touch with a senior Congress politician, asking him why his party was "wasting" a seat on Alvi who, according to Mayawati, is an ingrate and a man without following. The BSP boss wanted her Congress interlocutor to make sure Alvi did not get the nomination.
Now, you may wonder why Mayawati would concern herself with whom the Congress was accommodating in the Rajya Sabha. Unless you remember that Alvi, a former Lok Dal member of the Lok Sabha from Uttar Pradesh, was an aide of Mayawati who had had the temerity to desert her on the eve of the parliamentary election, protesting against her dictatorial ways.
But what must have been more galling for Mayawati is that Alvi managed to land on his feet. He joined the Congress and though he did not contest the Lok Sabha election he got a nomination to the Rajya Sabha from Andhra Pradesh. So now he is a member of the same House as his erstwhile political boss.
A cop is always right
The other day a traffic constable approached a colleague as he drove to work and threatened to book him for an offence unless he coughed up Rs 100. Said colleague stood his ground, insisting that he had not jumped the red light, and drove on. Only to be reminded of the altercation a few weeks later when he received a notice from the traffic police asking him to deposit Rs 100 or, if he so desired, to contest the penalty in court.
Preferring to buy peace, he dispatched Rs 100 to the notified authority. And believed that was the end of the matter.
It wasn't. He received at least three more such notices for traffic violations allegedly committed in a span of a few days from the date of his first altercation with the constable.
Coincidentally, in that very period he had been abroad, a fact easily verified from his passport. Nor did anyone use his car in his absence.
Yet, instead of going through the trouble of contesting the case in person or through a lawyer, our colleague quietly dispatched Rs 300 more as fine for offences he had not committed.
Moral of the story: Never deny the cops what they think is their due. Or else be prepared to pay a bigger price.
Ruinous cost of populism
Even before they can settle the dispute over steel prices, what with various users associations petitioning the new government to fix the prices through executive fiat and new Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan being more than willing to play the proverbial monkey mediating between two cats, vested interests in the UPA are itching to twist the arm of cement manufacturers as well.
In a throwback to the bad old days of stifling Socialism, the authorities have sought to probe the rise in prices of cement in recent months.
A bag of cement which till late last year sold for Rs 110 is now being sold at Rs 160/Rs 170. Examining the sharp rise in minute detail would automatically empower the new ministerial bosses to do business with the cement manufacturers. That was the well-trodden path several 'Socialist' ministers had taken in the heyday of garibi hatao, only to line their own pockets. Looks like the same charade will be played out again, this time in the name of the aam aadmi.
Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh