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Capital Buzz/Virendra Kapoor

United they pulled

God knows how many strings he pulled. Or, considering the enormity of this string-pulling business, even God may not -- only Amar Singh, the doyen of the capital's string-pullers, knows that for sure.

Yep, folks, it is the new Central Bureau of Investigation Director R C Sharma we are after this week.

For quite some time now, Sharma had been pulling strings left, right, centre and centre to left to get to the coveted post. He pulled and pushed, and when the old arms got tired (he is now on an extension, remember?), he entrusted the job to the fixers of Delhi.

A couple of ordinary fixers tried, but the job remained unfixed -- twice did opportunity knock on the door, but both times neither Sharma nor his fixers could get to the door fast enough.

Till, finally, Amar Singh rolled up his sleeves and took up the matter. (So what if Laloo Prasad Yadav contributed his little bit? That was unintentional.)

Now, half the politicians are happy about the state of affairs (Tiger Joggy was a bit too yappy for their simple tastes). For Sharma is an amiable sort of guy who never barks, never bites, never even nips.

And, to cap it all off, he has a soft corner for everyone who has been investigated by the CBI.

Thus, controversial Uttar Pradesh Governor Romesh Bhandari is happy -- for, isn't Sharma extrrremely close to him?

Former Haryana chief minister Bhajan Lal is glad -- after all, isn't he a good friend of Sharma's?

And Sharma himself is ecstasic -- hasn't he accomplished the dream of his life?

The new maharaja

Romesh Bhandari sure has royal tastes. Particularly, when it comes to spending tax-payers's money.

Recently, Bhandari gave the Union finance ministry officials a collective heart attack when he sent them a bill -- for Rs 700,000. The expenditure, the gentleman explained, was for renovating the billiards room of the Lucknow Raj Bhavan.

When they recovered from the shock, ministry officials objected vociferously -- but spent money remained spent.

Lucknow birds say that after being shown his corner by the Bharatiya Janata Party-Bahujan Samaj Party government, Bhandari has made a project of emptying the national coffers. And he is doing pretty well.

Five-star parties, sources say, seems to be the order of the day (a recent one featured R C Sharma), and in summer it is the governor's well-appointed Nainital resort. No expense is spared to make the guests's stay the ulitmate in luxury. The choicest whisky, the choicest food, everything is available at the snap of the finger.

No wonder a Lucknow politician commented wryly: "A functioning Governor Bhandari is dangerous to only UP; but a functionless Governor Bhandari is dangerous to the nation!"

Chappals are for stealing

Never leave your chappals unguarded -- that was the lesson former finance minister Manmohan Singh learned at the meeting to mourn Hari Kishan Shastri's ( the late prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri's son) death.

Singh, like the rest of the mourners, had left his chappals at the door before entering the prayer hall. But when he came out, the chappals had vanished.

Thereafter, it was a hectic half-an-hour of chappal hunting for Singh and the security personnel. As Singh and former prime minister P V Narasimha Rao wear almost identical chappals, Singh went looking for his fomer boss -- had Rao mistakenly taken his chappals?

No, Rao hadn't.

The next 'suspect' was former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. His feet, too, were inspected, but no luck.

Singh had to eventually drive back minus his footwear.

Junketing for freedom

Any time is a good time for junketing. And with the golden jubilee celebrations of Indian Independence just round the corner, the freebie-business has already started.

The Indian Council of Cultural Relations recently asked a New Delhi-based cartoonist to select a panel of cartoonists for a junket to the US and a couple of other countries. The cartoonist ended up picking his friends with whom he feels 'comfortable.'

The 'comfortable' list includes someone who has virtually ceased doing cartoons, and a relatively young magazine illustrator. The biggest surprise came when the said cartoonist included his own name, even though he has never really graduated beyond doing college magazine gags!

Luckily, the list contained R K Laxman's name.

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