Capital Buzz/Virendra Kapoor
Now, a Pawar-Yadav nexus
A new political axis is in the making in the fast-changing equations
in the ruling conglomerate in New Delhi. Maratha strongman
Sharad Pawar -- (left) who believes that his time has come at last to play
a stellar role in the Congress -- has established an excellent rapport
with Samajwadi Party boss Mulayam Singh Yadav. A Bombay-based
industrialist and his man Friday in the capital are said to have
played a crucial role in bringing the two leaders closer.
Pawar reckons that a long-term tie-up with Yadav would help the
Congress win back the support of the Muslim community in the states
where Yadav's SP is not a contender for power. The Congress
leader in the Lok Sabha reasons that Kanshi Ram of the Bahujan
Samaj Party is too slippery to be trusted in a long-term partnership
whereas Yadav's ambitions are largely confined to Uttar Pradesh.
In a trade-off where the Congress plays a minor partner to Yadav in
UP, the Pawar-led Congress is keen to bag his Muslim constituency
countrywide. Whether Sitaram Kesri is aware of the emerging Pawar-Yadav
nexus is not of much consequence since the Maratha strongman believes
it is a matter of time before he takes over the reins
of the Congress party.
Mr Fix-it strikes again!
Wherever there is a scandal, there
is Amar Singh. That is the
latest dictum doing the rounds in the United Front circles in
the capital. The Samajwadi Party member of the Rajya Sabha, who
apparently leads his party chief, Defence Minister Mulayam Singh
Yadav, by the nose, has his finger in too many pies for any intrepid
investigator to be able to unravel fully all his shenanigans.
Here is how and why Singh intervened to save Neera Yadav, (right) the
controversial UP cadre IAS officer who is currently under investigation. Yadav recently succeeded
in thwarting an investigation
into her conduct as NOIDA chairperson, thanks to Singh's influence
on UP Governor Romesh Bhandari.
The CBI had sought the governor's permission to investigate
her alleged acts of corruption. But Bhandari denied the CBI permission
and, instead, chose to appoint a commission of inquiry with widened
terms of reference in order to take the focus away from Yadav's
acts of omission and commission. This inquiry holds no terror
for her for obvious reasons.
But why would Singh help her? It turns out that Singh had
been a beneficiary of Yadav's largesse when she headed
NOIDA. Official papers made available to this columnist reveal
that Singh was allotted plot number B-126 in the VVIP Sector 44
by Yadav on August 24, 1994.
Singh had applied for a residential plot in his capacity as a
director of an industrial unit owned by one of his numerous friends.
For some reason, he did not like the location of the plot. On
September 5, 1994, he sought a change of plot. And a very obliging
Yadav allotted him a much larger plot -- number C- 218 in the same
Sector 44 -- on March 2, 1995.
He was handed over possession of the plot the same day.
Besides, Singh and his friends have helped themselves to plum
residential and industrial plots during the time Yadav ruled
the roost at NOIDA.
I'm corrupt, so what?
While on UP's most controversial IAS officer, her colleagues are
awestruck by the clout she wields under the present gubernatorial
dispensation in the state. Now posted as principal secretary,
programme implementation and Ambedkar village development department,
she has been mostly away from her base in Lucknow, preferring
instead to live in her luxurious mansion in NOIDA.
She has however lost none of her sangfroid despite the CBI allegations
against her which, among others, refer to "her possessing
property abroad without taking appropriate approval or permission
and amassing wealth abroad without following rules and through
corrupt practices" and "illegal allotment of plots and
properties by collecting huge illegal gratification..."
A case of mistaken identity
At the end of the recent swearing-in ceremony of two new ministers
at Rashtrapati Bhavan,
Chief Election Commissioner Manohar Singh Gill (left) went up to Minister of State
for Personnel and Parliamentary Affairs S R Balasubramaniam to
congratulate him profusely on his becoming a minister.
Balasubramaniam protested and said Gill had got it all mixed up. "Don't you recall we
were on the same flight from Madras to Delhi only yesterday and
had talked at length about various matters?" he told the CEC.
A sheepish Gill apologised and went on to add, "Most
South Indians too have difficulty distinguishing between one Sikh
and another. To them, all Sardarjis appear the same. You and the
new minister of state Veerendra Kumar are separated at birth.
You have almost same height, same bulk and besides you dress alike..."
Conning cash rewards
The ingenuity of the corrupt knows no bounds. V P Singh, (below, right) as the
finance minister in Rajiv Gandhi's government, had introduced
a scheme for rewarding, in tax-free cash, almost one-fourth of
the value of the goods confiscated by the Customs to the officers
concerned and their informants, if any. The scheme has been often
Recently, at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, the Customs
recovered nearly Rs 30 million in foreign currency which a passenger
was unauthorisedly seeking to take out of the country. The detection
took place quite by chance. Subsequently, an elaborate charade
was created so that over Rs 5 million could be disbursed in rewards
to private individuals who were not remotely connected with the
There is a ceiling on the amount of reward money an officer can
claim. Also, only middle-level officers are covered by the scheme.
This too causes misuse of the cash incentive scheme.
Doordarshan and discretion
Despite the recent public focus
on the misuse of ministerial discretion,
nothing seems to have changed. .
A case in point is the information and broadcasting ministry.
In the recent past, Doordarshan has turned many including
Prannoy Roy to Vinod Dua into millionaires. And
many more constantly
knock at its doors for make-me-rich-overnight contracts, especially
where commissioned programmes are concerned.
But there is no mechanism in place to evaluate objectively the
proposals from various prospective producers. Even when the proposals
are short-listed, one has to cringe before DD officials for a
favourable decision. When all else fails, IB Minister Chand Mahal Ibrahim
(left) acts as the final arbiter.
A couple of weeks ago, a producer met Ibrahim and had his long-pending
proposal cleared in a matter of minutes. Why the committee of
experts couldn't do it foxes him and everyone else.