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Capital Buzz/Virendra Kapoor

Some entertaining Kesri tales

We all know about Congress president Sitaram Kesri's roaring popularity in the United Front circles these days. Indeed, he is so popular that when the UF steering committee met at 7, Race Course Road to take stock after the rug-pulling act last Sunday, several members were seen energetically queuing up -- to sock Kesri one... if not physically, at least verbally.

And boy, did they go at it!

All had Kesri tales to recount. Many did. And most were extremely entertaining. Like this one which a minister shouted out at the top of his voice. "When P V Narasimha Rao was prime minister, I remember a particular occasion when Kesri prostrated before him in this very room. He had his Gandhi cap at Rao's feet. I even remember his words:'You have given me a new life; you not only arranged for my heart operation in Houston, but allowed me four attendants from India. I shall be eternally grateful to you ... ' We all know how he repaid Rao! "

Then it was another minister, this one from Bihar, who warmed to the subject. He spoke at length about Kesri's youth -- how he was sentenced for violating some anti-hoarding law, but later came out claiming that he was imprisoned for freedom struggles!

Defence Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, too, hopped about mad and had a thing or two to tell Kesri. How dare he (Kesri) suggest that his Samajwadi Party support Kesri's bid for prime ministership? And how dare he harp on Union Home Minister Indrajit Gupta's remarks about the Uttar Pradesh law and order situation in his letter to the President? "It wasn't me who drafted the letter," Kesri defended weakly, "It was Pranab Mukherjee. I just put my signature. What could I do?"

Oh, it wouldn't be the DMK or LTTE... Must be the JD

This one, again, is about Kesri. The other day, Chacha -- as he is addressed by his younger aides -- was informed that his effigies were being burnt in Tamil Nadu. Kesri was not perturbed. "Buri nazar wale tera muhn kala(those who cast evil on others will face the same)," he quoted.

A senior leader volunteered that it must be the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam's handiwork. Chachapromptly agreed. " They don't like me, especially after I attended Jayalalitha Jayaram's son's wedding," he said. It immediately dawned on Kesri that he desperately needed the DMK support. " No, no, it cannot be the DMK; it must be the LTTE," he corrected hurriedly. Again, it occurred to him that blaming LTTE could well annoy the entire Tamil Nadu contingent. So he zeroed in on the Janata Dal workers. " They are not very strong in Tamil Nadu. Maybe 40-50 JD workers did the mischief. They are all sold out," he consoled.

No honour among thieves

Congressmen, one and all, are terribly unhappy with soon-to-be-out-of-work prime minister H D Deve Gowda. Mainly, it is his annoying habit of launching Central Bureau of Investigation probes about this, that and the other scams that have driven them all up the wall.

"Why doesn't he ask the CBI to probe Chandan Basu's (West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu's son) affairs?" one fumed. Another wanted to know why the sleuths were not investigating how Mulayam Singh managed to sent his son all the way to Australia. "Junior Yadav is ostensibly studying. But he has bought himself a 1,000-acre estate there. Where did he get the money?" he wonders.

A third was much bothered because nothing was being done about the Rs 350 million Ayurveda scam which, again, features Mulayam Singh. "Why are only Congressmen being targeted?" he asks.

Why, indeed? Is it because there are more scamsters among Congressmen than the rest?

No time for Hurriyat leaders

Agreed that Deve Gowda and company have Important (with a capital I) matters to deal with these days. But that doesn't really justify his forgetting about the All Party Hurriyat Conference leaders and the foreign funding they received, does it?

Intelligence agencies have unearthed evidence of massive amounts routed to the Conference through Western conduits. The Pakistani Inter Service Intelligence, they say, are behind the game. Political organisations are expected to inform the authorities about foreign donations. Which law the Hurriyat leaders conveniently ignored. Besides this, the sleuths also have unimpeachable evidence about how certain Hurriyat leaders have come to acquire vast chunks of real estate all over the place. And...

But no, the government has no time for any of this. They have matters political to handle -- Important ones (with a capital I).

Post-retirement politics

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati had a couple of puzzling minutes last day. A recently retired Supreme Court judge phoned her up with an unusual request -- please do not not transfer the district collectors and police chiefs of Mathura, Varanasi and Faizabad. "They have acquitted themselves well in maintaining peace in these three sensitive temple towns," the ex-judge announced, " Kindly retain them in the interest of communal peace in the state." What could be his motive, wondered the BSP leader. Politics, maybe?

Like her, we are also wondering.

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