Capital Buzz/Virendra Kapoor
CBI boss faces home minister's wrath
Federal Home Minister Indrajit Gupta is a man of strong likes
and dislikes. And, unlike most politicians, he invariably speaks
his mind. No one knows that better than the high-profile director
of the Central Bureau of Investigation, Joginder Singh.
Gupta is not exactly enamoured by the CBI director. At official
meetings, he gives short shrift to Singh, who does come across
as a nitwit at times. Given Gupta's razor-sharp mind, Singh either
tries to either avoid going to official meetings where the home
minister is likely to be present or, if he cannot avoid those
meetings, he tries to sit through these in complete silence. Often,
he deputes CBI's joint director to these meetings.
The other day, Singh had to see Gupta in the latter's office at
North Block. He approached the room with great trepidation, only
to told by the peon to wait in Gupta's personal assistant's room
till he was called. The CBI boss felt humiliated, but there was
little he could do in the matter.
Singh ascribes his problems with Gupta to the latter's adviser,
former CBI director A P Mukherjee.
Another person who makes no bones about his feelings for Singh
is the federal Minister of State for Personnel S R Balasubramaniam,
who belongs to the Tamil Maanila Congress. This, despite the fact
that Singh has apologised to him for a couple of lapses of protocol
in recent weeks.
The only person Singh gets on famously with is Prime Minister
Deve Gowda who hand-picked him in the first place for the crucial
post. Singh, it must be mentioned, is a Karnataka cadre IPS officer.
Power of the press
M K Bezbaruah, director, enforcement directorate, faces the axe
for standing up to Revenue Secretary N K Singh during the course
of his duty. Bezbaruah invited Singh's wrath upon himself, following
the raid on the residence of a newspaper tycoon in the capital
earlier this month.
Singh - Nandu to those familiar with him from the time when he
was special assistant to the then commerce minister L N Mishra
in the '70s - intervened while the raid was on. And, using the
name of Finance Minister P Chidambaram, had it called off. This,
when the tycoon had feigned a massive heart attack during the
raid but was headed for the international airport less than two
hours later to take a flight out of the country.
When the directorate officials tried to stop the tycoon from boarding
the flight that night, a very angry Singh gave them a earful and
ordered them to allow the newspaper baron to fly out.
The raid was conducted in the light of the observations of the
Calcutta high court in a case against the said tycoon. The court
observed that there was a gross violation of the Foreign Exchange
Regulation Act by the said tycoon.
Bezbaruah, known to be an honest and efficient officer, might
now be replaced by a controversial officer close to Singh and
a middle-level business house headquartered in the capital.
A couple of years ago, India's national carrier, Air India, and
a few other airlines introduced the 'companion free scheme' for
travellers making full payment on a first class ticket. It was
a scheme that delighted frequent travellers, especially those
who travelled on taxpayers' money.
But, a few months after the scheme was introduced, some spoilsport
in the capital's babudom issued a terse order asserting that the
"benefit of complimentary companion ticket should appropriately
accrue to the government and not to the individual government
servant performing the journey."
It now turns out that at least four senior officials from the
public sector State Trading Corporation took their wives along
on foreign tours, in violation of the government order. And now,
they face flak from the commerce ministry for violating the order
from the department of personnel.
There is no denying that Congress president and leader of the
Congress party in parliament Sitaram Kesri was reluctant to re-admit
the Congress (Tiwari) leader, Arjun Singh, into the party. The
leaders of the UP Congress, particularly Jitendra Prasad, had
their own reasons for not wanting to see N D Tiwari back into
the Congress fold.
But Arjun Singh finally forced Kesri's hand, when the presiding
deity at 10 Janpath left him with no option but to re-admit Singh
and Tiwari. And Singh now leaves no one in doubt that he has the
blessings of Sonia Gandhi, when he approvingly displays a news
item to the effect to visitors to his house.
Meanwhile, there is much derisive comment in the political circles
about his favourite television programme. It seems that Singh
and his wife are great fans of the Zee Horror Show. Visitors to
their house are expected to watch the ghoulish programme in complete
Test of Indrajit Gupta's will
How relevant is Indrajit Gupta in the Deve Gowda government? He
has stated, on record, that the Jain commission of inquiry into
the conspiracy behind Rajiv Gandhi's assassination has outlived
its purpose. That the commission had been `diverted and hijacked'
Last August, the commission was given a six-month extension after
Jain's assurance that he would not seek more time to finish his
assigned job. The commission's extended term is due to end on
Now, with Congress president Sitaram Kesri demanding that the
Deve Gowda government not only extend the commission's term, but
also give it certain top secret documents, Gupta will be hard
put to stick to his stand on the relevance of the commission.
If he doesn't, it will be yet another instance where he find himself
short-changed by Deve Gowda.
Meanwhile, Jain is ready with an interim report which, predictably,
points the needle of suspicion at Sri Lankan Tamil terrorists.
Narayanan as President?
President S D Sharma is keen on a second term when his present
tenure at Rashtrapati Bhavan ends in July. However, sensing the
prevalent mood in the political establishment, he is unlikely
to press for it. Nonetheless, he sees no harm in gauging the mood
of politicos of various hues before taking his final decision.
Sharma has been meeting old friends in the Congress at breakfast
and luncheon meetings. Two former prime ministers are due to exchange
views on the current situation in the country over luncheons meetings
Is Vice-President K R Narayanan worried? Not really,
for he is certain to succeed Sharma as President later this year.