Capital Buzz/Virendra Kapoor
A mole in the Congress headquarters?
Unless they are desperately looking for an excuse to withdraw
support to the H D Deve Gowda government, Congressmen should
immediately stop making a fuss over the presence of a couple of
sleuths from the Intelligence Bureau in the vicinity of
the party headquarters at 24 Akbar Road. For, if the real reason were
to revealed to the people at large, they will end up with egg
on their faces.
The chaps at the IB, after all, are not fools. Nor are they oblivious
to the political implications of an unwarranted intrusion into
the affairs of a party whose support is crucial to the continuance
of the government of the day.
All they were trying to do, without seeking to embarrass the Congress
party, was to monitor the activities of a minor AICC functionary
who is suspected of passing information to a foreign country.
The man in question was once a factotum of Ottavio Quattrocchi,
the Italian manager accused of being one of
the recipients of the Bofors kickbacks.
Before leaving India some two years ago -- following the disclosure
that he was one of the petitioners in a Swiss court opposing the
release of the names of the Bofors recepients -- Quattrocchi found
his one-time sidekick a suitable job. Given his close ties with Sonia
Gandhi and her family, it was no problem for him to place his
one-time aide in the AICC headquarters.
Once in the AICC `computer room', he observed the developments
in the Congress party from close quarters. Ever since the IB sleuths
intercepted calls made from the AICC office to his intelligence
`contact' in the mission of a country not very friendly with India,
they began to keep a watch him.
Senior IB officials were puzzled by the hue and cry raised by Congressmen
over the surveillance of a suspected `foreign spy', especially
when Sitaram Kesri was duly taken into
confidence about the alleged activities
of the `AICC computer boy'.
Punish the good for the bad
Were it not for the fear of the
higher judiciary, M K Bezbaruah,
director, enforcement directorate, would have been sent off to
a far-off place on a punishment posting by now. His crime: He
authorised a raid on the home of one of India's leading newspaper barons,
following a directive by the Calcutta high court.
Since the Supreme Court bench, headed by Justice J S Verma, is
monitoring the functioning of the investigating agencies aided
by the amicus curiae, lawyer Anil Divan,the prime minister's
office has put the transfer proposal on hold.
Revenue Secretary N K Singh mooted Bezbaruah's immediate transfer.
Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram endorsed the transfer with similar
speed. Even though a relative of the media baron met
Prime Minister Deve Gowda within hours of the raid and a senior
editor coordinated the 'save-my-owner' operation with senior
finance ministry officials, the fear of the judiciary saved
Bezbaruah from a punishment posting, albeit temporarily.
Joginder bitten by foreign bug
Ever since the little-known Karnataka cadre
IPS officer, Joginder
Singh,was hand-picked by Prime Minister Deve Gowda for heading
the Central Bureau of Investigation, he has tried to make the
most of his new assignment.
Following his appointment as head of the CBI, his wife, a middle-level
official in the information department of the central government,
was promoted to department head, much to the chagrin of her colleagues,
some of whom have been bypassed for promotion.
Singh himself is determined not to miss an opportunity to see
the world at tax-payers' expense. He has undertaken more trips
abroad in the last six months as the CBI director than in his
entire career spanning over three decades.
A little bird tells
us that he went to Dubai a couple of months ago against the advice
of the Indian mission in UAE. He was told that he couldn't expect
to make headway in his purported mission at the time he chose
to undertake his journey but, nonetheless, insisted on going on
what turned out to be a futile visit.
Old-timers in the CBI point out that Singh's presence in Switzerland
was not necessary to receive the Bofors papers nor was he required
to linger on there on the plea of coordinating with the local
authorities in the investigations in the urea scam.
To Madras, on duty
As a people, Indians have internalised the disregard for norms
and proprieties. The misuse of office cars, telephones, stationary,
etc, is routine. Therefore, no one need complain if senior functionaries
of the country's banking sector, including those from public
sector financial institutions, happened to congregate in Madras
on a given day last week. And no one need read anything amiss
in the mere coincidence that all of them had jetted down for urgent
The marriage of federal Finance Minister P Chidambaram's son,
Kartik in the city on the same day, when they were all ensconced
in five-star comfort in Madras, was but a minor diversion for
them, engrossed as they all were in performing their official
More on Chandra Swami
A fresh lot of charges are soon to be slapped against controversial
godman Chandra Swami. Only recently released on bail, he may be
booked again if the investigating agencies are given a free hand.
Sleuths have unravelled the intricate web of his vast holdings
in real estate and his illicit dealings in foreign currency. But an
out-of-jail Chandra Swami is at pains to give the impression
that everything was back to normal.
He is now playing at selecting the republic's next President.
The prospect of Vice-President K R Narayanan succeeding
Shankar Dayal Sharma next July does not appeal to him. "How can you have both
the prime minister and the President from the south? Both don't
speak Hindi," he argues. His candidate for the President:
who else than his old friend, Chandra Shekhar?
Chandra Swami doesn't count for much in the corridors of power
following his imprisonment but this has not prevented him from
playing God to the small group of hangers-on who still frequent
his farm house on the outskirts of the capital.