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Capital Buzz/Virendra Kapoor

The old man and his masterplan

Sitaram Kesri Poor, poor, Sitaram Kesri! Life really isn't treating the Congress president well. After all the plotting he did, look what's happening! So he brought Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda crashing down, but what about his image? (Please, please don't ask that question -- what image?!) Well, that is shot to hell.

Actually, Kesri had been having a hard time right from the moment he pulled Deve Gowda's plug on Easter Sunday. Partyman after partyman were asking him the same thing: So okay, now you have withdrawn support to the United Front. But how are you going to put the Congress back in power while avoiding, at all costs, a snap poll?

What is the masterplan?

Friend and foe alike asked away. But Kesri maintained his ineloquent silence. All they could wrangle out of him was a "Mein Congress ka president hoon, moorkh nahin hoon" ( I am the the Congress president, not a fool).

This further strengthens the belief that Kesri toppled the government to preempt the UF-initiated inquiries in the S K Tanwar case (the Delhi police were to submit its investigation report four days after Easter) against him.

Kesri's masterplan, it would appear, had just one focus: to save his skin. Which, for the time being, he has done.

About Deve Gowda's boot

Folks, there is more to Delhi Police Commissioner Nikhil Kumar's recent sacking than that meets the eye. Kumar, for the not-on-the-ball readers, was given the boot last week after a police team killed two innocent men in an 'encounter'.

H D Deve Gowda The Deve Gowda-Kesri love affair, if you remember, was racing towards a powerful climax last week, with both raring to shout un-sweet somethings in each other ears. The prime minister wanted Kesri inside Tihar jail; and the Congress president wanted Deve Gowda outside... the prime minister's office.

And between both stood the three-year-old Tanwar case investigations involving Kesri.

Political sources say that it was anti Kesri-ites in the Congress -- meaning, of course, the P V Narasimha Rao-ites -- who got the thing going. And Deve Gowda was more-than-happy to oblige. So on went the investigation.

But there was a khakhi-clad fly in the ointment -- by the name of Nikhil Kumar. Apparently, the cop was not ready to play ball the way Deve Gowda wanted it. He, sources claim, had a soft corner for 'fellow-Bihari' Kesri, whom he had known for decades.

It is here that the shoot-out came in handy. Singh was immediately replaced by T R Kakkar. And since then, Union Home Secretary K Padmanabhaiah and Delhi Lt Governor Tejinder Khanna, Deve Gowda-ites, have been personally directing the investigations.

Khanna was appointed the day after he retired as commerce secretary by the Front government. Padmanabhaiah is on an extension... and when you are on an extension, it always pays to play more loyal than the king!

Piety from anxiety

Politics breeds many things. It breeds clout, it breeds fame; it breeds money, it breeds hate... and, at crisis times, it breeds piety.

C M Ibrahim The April 8 happenings at 5, Race Course Road is proof enough for this. On this day, the whole of Deve Gowda's immediate family gathered at his residence.

The prime minister's four sons and a daughter were present at their father's hour of crisis. (One daughter was away in the US.) Priests were specially flown down from Deve Gowda's village in Karnataka. Being a strict family affair, there were no outsiders present -- no, not even his alter ego, Chand Mahal Ibrahim. The family performed puja for an hour.

And this being Ugadi (new year in South India), Deve Gowda's wife Chennamma even observed a fast and prayed to her village deity whose blessings, she believes, helped her husband become prime minister.

Media tycoon in trouble

A particular media tycoon is not going to like this piece. The said newspaper man, who is away holidaying abroad, might receive a grand reception from the Enforcement Directorate sleuths at the airport when he returns.

The ED officials, you see, are greatly enamoured by his performance in an allegedly hawala operation (the Rajasthan Bank case) and want to, er, interview him.

A high-profile Calcutta hawala middleman who brokered a deal between a former Bank of Rajasthan deputy chairman and the media tycoon demonstrated his talents as a singer to ED officials last week. Nonstop, he sang for two days -- and how! -- on the promise of personal amnesty.

The ED has a strong case against the tycoon now and is exploring the possibilities of issuing an Interpol warrant, should his holiday go on and on.

Hawala not all over yet

With the Delhi high court's rejection of the Jain diaries as evidence, several politicians and bureaucrats charged under the hawala case are breathing easy. But many find themselves still floundering in the soup.

Like former Union ministers Arif Mohammad Khan, Kalpnath Rai, and the Jain brothers.

Kalpnath Rai In both cases, the Central Bureau of Investigation and the income tax authorities unearthed concrete evidence -- of their acquiring real estate and other assets far in excess of their known income. Hence, even if criminal cases are quashed, they will still have the IT authorities to answer.

Ditto for the Jain brothers who had, till now, fended off cases under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act and IT sleuths saying that they could not be hauled till the criminal case against them was disposed.

Now it is the IT and ED sleuths who are in the driving seat.

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