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Capital Buzz/Virendra Kapoor

Temper, temper flying great!

These days H D Deve Gowda is continuously losing one thing or the other. First it was his comfortable prime ministerial khursi. And now, it is his temper.

Last week at the United Front steering committee meeting, he lost it so badly that Janata Dal chief Sharad Yadav went looking for it -- and lost his, too!

Deve Gowda -- poor chap! he would rather have fresh elections than not be prime minister -- spoke quite feelingly about Congress president Sitaram Kesri's 'masterplan,' and called for Lok Sabha dissolution. Yadav, too, equally feelingly, talked about the Congress, Kesri and the rest, ending his speech on the note that an election at this stage would completely wipe the JD out.

Fresh polls, the good Yadav warned, would result in massive gains for the Bharatiya Janata Party-Bahujan Samaj Party combine throughout North India. Even the Congress would suffer major reverses.

But no, that didn't cut much ice with Deve Gowda. Polls he wanted now, and if anyone stood in the way, well, he was going to get a piece of mind. "You are talking like a Congressman," Deve Gowda thundered at Yadav.

"I come from a family which has opposed the Congress for decades. I have never been a Congressman all my life. Whereas you--" choked the infuriated Yadav, "--you came to the Dal from the Congress. I don't need any certificate from someone like you!"

Before the matters got completely out of hand, Deve Gowda walked out of the room, even as Yadav continued his diatribe.

Kesri's train of thoughts

Sitaram Kesri finds great similarities between politics and railway lines.

The Congress chief (who, incidentally, was very hurt when Ram Vilas Paswan, that 'kal ka bachcha', abused him in Parliament) expanded this theory of his at the Congress Working Committee meeting last day.

"The Congress is a national party. We are on a broad gauge rail line," he told the CWC members and the couple of pro-Kesri scribes present there, "That Deve Gowda is on metre gauge. And metre gauge trains cannot run on broad gauge. Chut put (small) parties and those Leftists are threatening us, but they cannot stop our broad gauge train..."

Kesri went on embellishing the analogy further to drive home his party was on the right track... till finally, all present could see, hear and think nothing but trains!

Nobody loves me, everybody hates me...

Deve Gowda's tumble the other week has disturbed prime ministerial front runner Inder Kumar Gujral very much.

For one, his fingers are aching like mad -- he had been keeping 'em very tighly crossed ever since the UF government fell, and the strain is now beginning to tell.

For two, he is feeling terribly, terribly sad -- nobody, he says, is talking to him now.

"All UF members look at me with suspicion and mistrust (after being proposed for prime ministership)," the usually suave and friendly Gujral lamented to a good journo friend of his, "I have committed no wrong." He wondered if the scribe could use his influence to help him. "Why is everyone treating me like an untouchable?" he asked.

Thank God for that!

Iintelligence Bureau Director Arun Bhagat, probably, is thanking his stars that the Deve Gowda government fell -- if it hadn't he would have got the axe in a day or two.

Bhagat was in the doghouse with the then prime minister for his failure to warn the UF about Sitaram Kesri's letter to the President. Egging Deve Gowda on was the ubiquitous New Delhi fixer and Mulayam Singh Yadav's Man Friday Amar Singh.

Singh and Bhagat at one time were quite pally. But, of late, Singh had set his heart on making his 'man' -- Home Ministry Special Secretary V S Mathur, a Uttar Pradesh cadre IPS officer -- the IB chief.

Deve Gowda, with assistance from Singh, was just about lifting the sharpened axe when the Congress and the BJP so rudely snatched it away on April 11.

All for another extension

Union Home Secretary K Padmanabhaiah would make an excellent politician. A better one than Deve Gowda, anyway.

The bureaucrat, who was rewarded an extension last year for his loyalty to the UF (much against Home Minister Indrajit Gupta's wishes), is now busy cultivating Congress leaders -- he knows which side the bread is buttered, all right!

Thus, these days he is seen imbibing scotch in the company of a former high profile P V Narasimha Rao government minister. This wheeler-dealer Congressman, Padmanabhaiah hopes, might get him another extension.

Gupta would never allow this, if he has his way. The trouble is, Gupta never has his way with Padmanabhaiah -- the politician, er, bureaucrat always short-circuits Gupta through the PMO!

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