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Virendra Kapoor | December 27, 2005
Yes, modern technology has its downside.
Consider the plight of an hon'ble judge in the capital. While presiding in court the other day, he received a text message (or SMS). He quietly peered at the cell phone, only to find an Urdu couplet paying tribute to the beauty of the woman it was apparently addressed to. The judge ignored it. But the sender was persistent. Within an hour, he sent two more messages on the same lines. In all, before the court adjourned for lunch, the judge was bombarded with seven messages.
During the lunch recess, he called the cell phone the messages had originated from. Either the sender was overawed by the judge's status or he was brash enough to volunteer that he had got the number from a neighbourhood provision storeowner who also marketed pre-paid phone cards.
On being asked, he parted with the storeowner's number. The latter regretted his mistake, admitting that he was confused whether the last numbers were 'three-five or eight-five' and apologised profusely to the 'judge saab.' He disclosed that a lovely lass had recharged her phone that morning and he had quietly noted down her number, giving it to his friend who then sent the messages.
Not wanting to press charges, the judge good-humouredly ticked off the storeowner, adding that the next time he wanted to do something like this, the least he could do was note down the number correctly.
Chief minister's secret flight
The buzz in political circles is that a chief minister of a north Indian state recently slipped out of the country on a private plane for a couple of days without so much as a by-your-leave.
The laid down drill for such visits requiring prior approval of the PMO was dispensed with. Only the chief minister's personal security guard and his all-purpose factotum were said to be on board the secret flight to a Gulf destination.
His rivals, within his party and outside, suspect he may have spirited away funds to buy a plush property in Lutyens' Delhi before a close relative got into massive trouble, making that purchase impossible.
A maharaja's ministerial dreams
Karan Singh, the former maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, is a man for all seasons. He is also a perennial candidate for high constitutional office. However, in recent times, he seems to have set his sights lower. He now wants to be a minister in the UPA government.
As the prime minister cannot put off the unpleasant task of a Cabinet reshuffle-cum-expansion any longer, Karan Singh hopes to find a place. But, so does Saifuddin Soz, who left Farooq Abdullah's National Conference to join the Congress a couple of years ago.
Until the other day, Singh reckoned Soz could get out of the way if made chief of the J and K Pradesh Congress Committee. But now, another hurdle appears to have cropped up. In order to ensure smooth sailing for the Ghulam Nabi Azadministry, the Congress leadership wants to induct former chief minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, or his daughter Mehbooba Mufti, to the central ministry.
In the event of either Mufti becoming a central minister, there would be no rationale to induct Karan Singh, or even Soz for that matter, especially when there are too many ministerial aspirants in the Congress. Meanwhile, Karan Singh's term in the Rajya Sabha is due to end early next year, though he is hopeful of being re-nominated for yet another six-year term from the Delhi assembly.
A not-so-super idea
The Leftists are at it again. They want Delhi's Super Bazaar reopened. The defunct cooperative, which had run up losses to the tune of over Rs 1.30 crore (Rs 13 million) before it was shut down by the previous government, may now be revived through the infusion of fresh funds.
Of the 1,800 odd employees on its rolls, over 700 had accepted golden handshakes. Others are now making the rounds of Leftist MPs' homes, enlisting support for the Bazaar's revival.
Summons for Natwar?
The Enforcement Directorate is proceeding at its own sweet pace in following up the India-specific disclosures in the Volcker report. And it seems in no hurry to wrap up investigations anytime soon. It took several weeks to summon Jagat Singh, former foreign minister K Natwar Singh's son, for questioning.
Now, the Directorate wants Natwar Singh to respond to lots of questions emanating from the proven fact that he had led a Congress Party delegation to Iraq while Jagat and his friend Andaleeb Sehgal tagged along. But, thus far, it has not gathered the courage to issue him summons.
Insiders insist Natwar will be questioned, but only after a few weeks and after the ED receives a go-ahead from its political masters.
Meanwhile, one of the suspects questioned by the Directorate earlier has been dining out for days on end, regaling his hosts with tales of how ED officials were only interested in his saying something that would justify their undertaking foreign tours to Jordan, London and beyond.
Unwarranted speech restraint
The BJP member of the Lok Sabha from Bhilwara, Vijayendra Pal Singh, speaking in the House the other day, referred to the decline and fall of standards in public life. He recalled how even the late Indira Gandhi, on being elected prime minister while still a member of the Rajya Sabha, had, at the first available opportunity, become a member of the Lok Sabha. 'But now we have a PM who feels no qualms in continuing to be a member of the House of States…' he added.
Vijayendra Pal Singh was shocked when, a few days later, on receiving the verbatim report of his speech from the Lok Sabha secretariat, he found all references to Manmohan Singh omitted. Whole sentences from his speech pertaining to Dr Singh's membership of the Rajya Sabha were inexplicably erased from the proceedings.
Uncertainty at the top
The name of Viswapati Trivedi, a 1977 batch IAS officer of the Madhya Pradesh cadre, for the post of chairman-cum-managing director of Indian Airlines (since re-christened most inappropriately as Indian by Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel), was shortlisted by the public sector selection board a few weeks ago.
It is common knowledge that Patel wanted to persist with Sushma Chawla, whom he had appointed CMD without going through the laid-down selection drill. But the question of why the prime minister is sitting over the recommendation for appointing Trivedi remains unanswered, as he himself had nullified Chawla's appointment.
Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh