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Capital Buzz/Virendra Kapoor

Mending the Presidential heart

K R Narayanan It is a tough job, this, what President Kocheril Raman Narayanan has entrusted the foreign office.

For one, the chappies there haven't had much experience handling such matters. And two, a heart is what it's all about; and you can't really play around with a heart, can you now?

Okay, okay, we won't keep you in suspense anymore. It's like this: The trouble, you see, is that the President has a heart. In the right place. Only, for quite sometime now, it hasn't been behaving the way it should. A wheeze there, a gasp here... Nothing really wrong with it, but it needs a little touching up.

So now, the foreign office people have been asked to find out whether the job can be done in Houston, United States.

In case the US visit is not possible on such short notice -- the President would rather have it done right away -- Narayanan might nip down for a quiet visit to London.

Narayanan's heart condition came to light early this year when, after a royal feast of his favourite fish dish, he felt queasy in the stomach and had to be hospitalised. The doctors mended his stomach -- and in the process found that his heart too could do with some repair.

Saffron fixer

Once upon a time, among the multitude of tentwallahs in the national capital, there was a particular tentwallah. His worldly possessions included a few tents, a family and a nice, round potbelly.

But he had an advantage over other tentwallahs -- unlike them, he had an extremely well-developed sense of political smell. Which he put to good use.

Today, our tentwallah isn't selling tents anymore -- that part of his business is managed by his family. He has risen in life and is known to be one of the top-ranking fixers, specialising in the Bharatiya Janata Party. In fact, it would appear, that it is our friend who is solely responsible for Sahib Singh Verma's continuance in the chief minister's chair.

Given the fixer's popularity with the bigwigs, there isn't much he can't fix as far as BJP-ruled states are concerned -- even Pramod Mahajan, sources say, takes a lesson or two from our man.

So nobody was surprised when, the other day, an Australian company approached him to negotiate mining rights in Maharashtra.

The fixer, with his second fiddle (a BJP MP), met the senior executives over a sumptuous meal in a five star hotel (which incidentally belongs to a character who has been in the news for all the wrong reasons). The Australians explained the deal, the fixer listened.

"Oh, that won't be a problem," the fixer said airily. "Gopinath Munde (the Maharashtra deputy chief minister) is a good friend..."

The Australians were ecstatic. So ecstatic, sources say, that they agreed to the fixer's price without a murmur.

So don't be surprised if the Maharashtra government grants mining rights to an Australian company in the near future, will you?

Shekhawat and the rain gods

This year's monsoon gave plenty heartburn to Rajasthan Chief Minister Bhairon Singh Shekhawat..

First, it decided to stay away from his state getting Shekhawat all hot and bothered under the collar. What would happen to his farmers? There would be havoc in the state!

So being a greatly religious man, Shekhawat immediately hit upon an idea: He ordered his priests to prepare for a massive yagna to please the rain gods. Everything, he told them, should be according to the Vedic rites, complete with non-stop recitation of hymns and offerings of pure ghee.

The priests went away happily and got down to organising the yagna. But, as luck would have it, before the arrangements could be complete, the rain gods decided to shed their noncooperative attitude.

Shekhawat was a bit puzzled at this sudden change of equations. Hmmm, what was wrong? He hadn't even started the yagna and it was raining..? More importantly, what was he going to do with all that ghee and sandalwood and the rest of the stuff which the priests had collected?

That was when one of his chamchas piped, "Saab, the rain gods are mighty pleased with you. See how it is raining! Now what we should do is offer thanks to the gods..."

The last we saw was Shekhawat going around beaming like the sun, supervising the preparation for the thanksgiving yagna!

Gujral's enlightenment

I K Gujral Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral has seen light. Finally.

It happened last week or thereabouts. Gujral was having a quiet day by himself, sitting in his chair, doing nothing but entertain profound thoughts, when, much like it happened to Gautama Buddha, light suddenly dawned.

In that brilliant moment, he understood what prime ministership was all about, he understood that it was nothing but an illusion, that there was only one thing really real in life...

He understood that there was nothing more important than the India International Centre. That life could go on without prime ministership, but it couldn't go on without his IIC cronies. That while his job at the PMO was on daily wages, IIC membership was a lifelong prerogative...

Now you know why Gujral has gone all syrupy and sugary about his old friends, why he is inviting them for cosy lunches and dinners and breakfasts...

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