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Home > News > Capital Buzz

Virendra Kapoor | February 01, 2006

Weeks before they appointed his son, Bharatsinh Madhavsinh Solanki, the Congress Party MP from Anand in Gujarat, head of the Pradesh Congress Committee, former external affairs minister Madhavsinh Solanki had been making threatening noises against the party leadership.

In the Central Hall of Parliament, there were whispers galore that Solanki was desperate to encash the IOU he had duly earned when, as foreign minister in the P V Narasimha Rao government, he had given his Swiss counterpart a letter requesting an immediate end to the ongoing investigation into the Bofors deal. Once the contents of the letter were leaked to the media, it may be recalled that Madhavsinh Solanki was forced to quit. He had, since then, been in the political wilderness.

Even under intense media pressure, the former minister refused to name the person who had given him the letter. That was in the early 1990s. Since then, he had felt isolated and ignored in his own party, especially after long-time Jan Sangh-Bharatiya Janata Party renegade Shankarsinh Vaghela had been admitted into its ranks and later made a minister in the Manmohan Singhgovernment.

To ensure the lid stayed tightly shut over the conspiracy, the Congress leadership decided to placate the senior Solanki. That was why, a few days ago, Bharatsinh was nominated Gujarat party president despite tough opposition from senior leaders in the state unit. So strong was the opposition that Sonia Gandhi had to offer sops to his archrivals. Almost simultaneously, Urmilaben Patel was nominated to the Congress Working Committee.

The two-way quid pro quo deal is meant to keep the lid firmly closed on the conspiracy behind the senior Solanki's Bofors letter, even as it appeases opposition to his son heading the Gujarat Congress.

Too young to be a BJP general secretary

If Atal Bihari Vajpayee had his way, Varun Gandhi would have figured prominently in the list of BJP office-bearers. Despite Vajpayee's strong recommendation to appoint Varun one of the party general secretaries, he failed to make it to the Rajnath Singh team. His name was strongly opposed by the BJP's second rung leadership.

Three days before Rajnath Singh announced the office-bearers, prominent leaders met at his house to go over the list. There was general agreement on most names eventually announced. However, when the party chief sounded them about Vajpayee's endorsement, almost everyone present vehemently opposed Varun's appointment.

Sushma Swaraj spoke for Arun Jaitley, Pramod Mahajan and a couple of others present when she said they had become general secretaries after spending nearly 20 to 25 years in active public life, while Varun was sought to be foisted on the party at the same level 10 months after he turned 25 and thus become eligible to contest a parliamentary election.

Sensing the mood, Rajnath Singh dropped the idea. As Varun wasn't keen on a lesser position, it is quite likely he might be fielded by the BJP in one of the upcoming by-elections to the Lok Sabha.

Vajpayee bats for his aide

Here is one Vajpayee proposal the BJP may not be able to refuse. Brajesh Mishra, principal secretary to the former prime minister, is almost certain to be elected to the Rajya Sabha on the BJP ticket from his home state, Madhya Pradesh.

Meanwhile, Mishra's desire to be consulted on a regular basis by the Manmohan Singh government on all matters concerning national security -- including the ongoing parleys over the controversial Indo-US nuclear deal -- have been rebuffed. He has had a couple of meetings with current handlers of sensitive security issues, but Dr Singh is not keen on a firm mechanism for consultations at regular intervals with the BJP representative.

A lawyer's put-down

Leading lawyers appeared live on various television news channels, explaining the pros and cons of the judgment in the Bihar case. Naturally, former attorney general Soli Sorabjee -- who had successfully argued the case of the petitioners challenging the dissolution of the Bihar assembly last May -- was much in demand. So was senior Supreme Court lawyer, Fali Nariman.

While Sorabjee explained the implications of the judgment, Nariman -- a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha whose term is due to end soon -- made much of the fact that 'the petitioner had won by a whisker' and that it was a 'split three to two judgement.'

Hours later, Sorabjee and Nariman, along with the BJP and Congress lawyer-spokespersons, found themselves together on a television panel discussing the verdict. When Nariman again harped on the split verdict theme, Sorabjee came up with an effective verbal put-down: 'The keshavananda Bharti case too was a majority judgment.

For the uninitiated, in that celebrated case, the Supreme Court, by a 7-6 order in 1973, had held that Parliament did not have the power to alter the 'basic structure' of the Constitution. Sorabjee had appeared in that landmark case too.

Bofors backfires on Jaitley

How can you point fingers at the ruling dynasty and then expect not to pay the price? BJP leader Arun Jaitley, who has led the opposition assault against the Manmohan Singh government following the Quattrocchi affair, has had his security stripped down to the barest minimum.

A couple of days after Jaitley tore down the government's defences, armed guards posted outside his house were abruptly withdrawn. Also gone was the armed escort who accompanied him in his private vehicle wherever he travelled in the capital. Jaitley is now left with a lone unarmed cop outside his house.

The Union home ministry did not extend the courtesy of taking Jaitley into confidence before downsizing his security. Significantly, several BJP leaders, including Ravi Shankar Prasad, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and even Shahnawaz Hussain, have been provided round-the-clock armed security.

Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh


Capital Buzz

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Sub: Withdrawl security of Mr.Jaitley

Mr.Jaitley instead must write a letter of thanks to the Home Minister Mr.Patel for unburdening him and also pack off the lonely PSO left to ...


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