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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.

Sitaram Kesri 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.

P Chidambaram 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.

Joginder Singh 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 official work.

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 duties.

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.

Chandra Swami 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.

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