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Virender Kapoor | June 21, 2005
The Sangh Parivar is yet to get over the Jinnah affair.
The nasty words emanating from Vishwa Hindu Parishad quarters and comparison of politicians with prostitutes by the head of the Parivar K S Sudarshan are ample evidence.
Even the Bharatiya Janata Party hasn't quite got over the ghost of Jinnah, woken from deep slumber by party chief Lal Kishenchand Advani on his visit to Pakistan.
Now, everyone who had deserted the party boss when he needed support the most is keen to explain his or her role in the four-day drama.
Advani is fully aware who said what to whom in the Parivar when they thought he had written his political obituary.
In the coming weeks and months it might reflect in his handling of the party affairs.
Consider this episode. When party secretary Sudheendra Kulkarni called the BJP headquarters to read out the fulsome tribute Advani had recorded in the visitors' book at the Jinnah mausoleum in Karachi and wanted it given wide publicity in the Indian media, even the stand-in party spokesman Prakash Javdekar developed cold feet.
Despite Kulkarni's urgent phone calls, the BJP head office refused to issue a press release taking note of Advani's homage to the founder of Pakistan.
Sometime later when Sushma Swaraj came to know of Advani's entry, she wanted Kulkarni to be told in no uncertain terms that there was no question of the party giving wide currency to his tribute to Jinnah.
'Advaniji ko samjhana chahiey key hum ney election yahan ladna hain, Pakistan mein nahin (Advaniji should know we have to contest elections here in India, not in Pakistan),' she said.
When the BJP chief returned from Pakistan, and the Parivar severely pilloried him, it was again Swaraj who reacted with contempt.
She was heard saying, 'Saath saal ki kamai, chhai din mein khatam kar li (Advani has destroyed the political capital he earned over 60 years in just six days).'
Of course, Sushma and others now make light of the remarks, even ascribing them to others in the party.
Beware of interviews
A relatively new television news channel sent its crew to interview a well-known entrepreneur in the field of education.
The emerging tycoon was happy to grant the interview.
Little did he realise the reporter would ask him about his having been declared a fugitive from justice in a foreign country where he was located a few years ago prior to his shifting base to India.
He asked the reporter to shut the camera down before he could explain. The reporter said the camera would continue to roll, but in case he did not want the interview to be telecast he should get in touch with the marketing manager of the channel.
The reporter furnished the name and telephone number of the channel's marketing manager.
The tycoon spoke to the manager who promised not to air the interview provided the businessman agreed to buy commercial time on his channel.
The tycoon was made to commit advertisements worth about Rs 20 million on the channel.
High fliers and their magnificent machines
Congress President Sonia Gandhi flew in an aircraft owned by an industrial house to visit Russia twice within a short span of time.
When the Opposition objected to her using the company's plane, the Congress spokesperson was quick to declare the party would be duly paying for the use of the jet.
The matter was supposed to end with that declaration of intent to pay.
The truth is the civil aviation authorities have not licenced the aircraft for commercial use. It is strictly meant for the use of the said licensee company.
Should the licensee accept money from the Congress, it would stand in violation of the terms of its licence.
It may be recalled that some years ago, then chief election commissioner T N Seshan had used the same company's aircraft for a domestic trip.
Upon being questioned, Seshan had shot back to say he had sent a 'cheque for Rs 80,000 to the company for the use of its aircraft.'
That had halted the controversy, but there was no one to confirm whether the said amount had actually been debited from Seshan's account because the company could have accepted payment only at the pain of jeopardising its aircraft licence.
Meanwhile, sample the questions All India Radio anchors put to a correspondent in Russia to cover Sonia's visit: 'So how you think Mrs Sonia Gandhi's visit will impact Indo-Russian relations? Would you say it is a defining moment in the relations between the two countries?'
Luck of the draw
In Mulayam Singh Yadav's Uttar Pradesh, playing ball with the authorities is an essential criterion, it would seem.
Take the case of Noida, bordering the national capital. There was apparently a scandal in the draw of lots for plots a few months ago but it was hushed up after the media got wind of it.
They have since twice put off the draw for allotment of residential plots on one excuse or the other. Last time, advertisements were placed in major newspapers announcing the draw on May 23, but for some inexplicable reason it was cancelled at the last moment.
Given that they have collected nearly Rs 2 billion from applicants under the present scheme, and have used that money for over six months, Noida authorities ought to have by now conducted the draw and returned the money of thousands of unsuccessful applicants.
But now comes the news that the reason why the draw was cancelled was that one of the most prestigious information technology companies, which was entrusted to conduct the draw, refused to play ball with those who were keen to help a favoured few get the coveted plots of land.
The result: its contract was cancelled.
An in-house computer department has now been tasked to conduct the draw.
Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh