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Capital Buzz/Virendra Kapoor

A magnificent obsession

Former prime minister H D Deve Gowda is magnificently obsessed. With a dream.

In this dream of his, Deve Gowda sees a particular Janata Dal politician tight behind the bars. He sees him... well, it wouldn't be really prudent to write what Deve Gowda dreams for Bihar Chief Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav here. Or, for that matter, anywhere.

Anyway, it's Laloo that the ex-PM dreams of these days. And it's him Deve Gowda is going after with fangs bared -- even though it means joining hands with foe-of-old Sharad Yadav.

Step one: save Sharad from Laloo's clutches and win his everlasting support. Step two: go after Laloo together.

Deve Gowda's Delhi lawyer K K Manen has been instructed to defend Sharad in the JD poll fracas. Manen is now a permanent fixation at Deve Gowda's residence where he is briefed thoroughly in the art of carpet-pulling, backstabbing and such other basics of game Politics by Deve Gowda himself.

"He (Laloo) is the JD president, but hobnobbed with the enemy to destabilise his own government," Deve Gowda growls whenever somebody raises Laloo's name, "He must not be allowed to continue as party chief."

And Sitaram Kesri?The ex-PM growls a little more. "The Enforcement Directorate raid on Ashok Jain (The Times of India owner) was what provoked Kesri. After all, he has been a longtime retainer of the Jains," he says.

What about his successor Inder Kumar Gujral, then? Isn't he a nice chappie? "Heh!" pat comes a majestic snort, "That man will do anything to stay in power!"

I wanna be President!

Like his magnificent obsession Laloo, Deve Gowda has a magnificent dilemma too.

Now that he had his shot at PM-ship and fell flat on his face from up there, Deve Gowda has been seriously considering his future options -- which, to tell you the truth, are by far too few. He can't go back to simple Karnataka chief ministership -- tch, tch, too low for a man of his stature. And they didn't want him anywhere near the Prime Minister's Office. So should he try for the Presidency? Should he, really?

Deve Gowda started contemplating the matter.

"You should aspire for the Presidency now," a friend finally advised, "If you fail to make it, try and become an elder statesman. But no more regional politics for you!"

The ex-PM agreed. "Only national politics for me now on," he muttered to himself, "The Presidency it shall be!" And off he went -- guess where? -- to Bharatiya Janata Party's Atal Bihari Vajpayee's home. Vajpayee let him in all right and gave him a patient hearing -- but nothing else. No support, not even a promise of support.

Next, Deve Gowda requested his media friends to let out a trial balloon. But that, alas! was punctured even before it got off the ground -- his United Front colleagues, particularly the Leftists, saw to it.

Now, Deve Gowda's dilemma is whether to quit trying or keep at it.

Bouncy cheques

It is a hell of a mess Amitabh Bachchan has landed himself in. The sharks are already at his doorsteps, and the hounds may follow shortly if he doesn't get his financial act together.

What has happened, you see, is that the big B's -- or, to be fair to the man, his company the Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Limited's -- cheques have bounced. ABCL owes millions to the five-star hotel chain which played host to the Miss World pageant. ABCL employees have not been paid their full dues and lawyers, who breathed fire defending the company in the courts, are yet to see the fruits of their labour.

ABCL, its counsel pleaded, has 10 films ready for release. "Should one of these become a box-office success, we will clear each and every penny we owe the people...'' He didn't get beyond that. The court cut him short and sought a firm commitment on payment.

Looks as if AB baby has no other go but to convert his vast real estate holdings into hard cash and start paying up.

Sunny Chacha

At the Congress headquarters in New Delhi, the sun is shining, the birds are singing and Chacha Kesri is cock-a-hoop with joy.

And why shouldn't he be? Rigged or no, he won the organisational poll, didn't he?

So he is back to pecking young colleagues's cheeks (please don't mistake it -- it is just Chacha's way of showing affection) and offering everyone sweets and cold drinks.

There is no better place to visit than Chacha's office, truly!

But last day Chacha lost his smile -- and his cool as well. The occasion was when some Congressmen started a raucous protest outside his home against the alleged excesses of party observer R K Dhawan.

Chacha didn't find anything smiley about it and decided to take the bull by the horns.

Fixing his glasses firmly on his nose, he stomped out of his house and, with surprising agility for a man of his age, climbed on to the protestor's mini-truck. For the next few minutes, he unleased a barrage of invectives, some of them un-dictionarical. "You are H K L Bhagat's agents," he frothed, "You are agents of defeated Congressmen. You are paid to shout against me. Dhawan is my man... he has done nothing wrong and I shall hear nothing against him."

Chacha's treatment had the desired effect -- the protesters slunk away without even extracting the face-saver promise of an inquire into their grievance!

Costly delay

These Reserve Bank officials are an unusually clever bunch. Clever enough to assist the CRB scam in their own little ways.

The RBI had got the fraudulent scent of the scam months ahead. Aha, said they, somebody being clever in our backyard? Let us see what it is all about!

A team of sleuths was sent over, who went, spoke and came back -- scamster C R Bhansali, it appears, conquered them with a simple request. "My registered office is in New Delhi," he is reported to have told them, "So please ask your Delhi office to get in touch."

The clever officials spent six precious weeks trying to settle the jurisdiction issue. By which time Bhansali had taken the money and run.

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