Capital Buzz/Virendra Kapoor
Kesri's secret account abroad?
Sitaram Kesri complains that for nearly
40 years in politics, until the time he became Congress president, there
was not a single case of wrong-doing against him.
Now overnight he faces grave charges of misdemeanour in not one but several cases. Clearly, Kesri is oblivious
to the commonplace saying that a politician is confronted with
his past the moment he contests an election or occupies an important
After he became Congress president, Kesri's colourful past
has come to haunt him. His alleged role in the Dr S K Tanwar murder
case is being investigated. Or at least it was till he pulled the
plug on the Deve Gowda's government.
Congress treasurer for over 17 years before he became
party chief last year, Kesri is also having to explain
how the party received Rs 30 million in foreign exchange.
He has no answers or does not want to provide them to the Enforcement
Directorate. A little bird tells me the money had come from the secret agency of a Congress- friendly government, not necessarily that of Germany.
Now yet another embarrassing detail from Kesri's murky past has
reportedly surfaced. While The Times of India owner Ashok Jain
is facing flak in a couple of cases being investigated by the ED, his younger
brother Alok Jain, is reportedly being investigated for allegedly
operating bank accounts abroad.
Investigators are learnt to have discovered that Alok Jain had opened
an account in Kesri's name in a London branch of a well-known
western Bank. Worse, the application for the account was signed
by Kesri in his own hand. The initial amount deposited at the
time of opening the account was 10,000 pounds.
Kesri's connections with the Jains go back a long way when the family's Rohtas Industries was
Bihar's largest industrial unit. Kesri was then a low-paid factotum of the Jains before he wandered into politics and made 'good'.
Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral, whose sister's children are married to Ashok Jain's children, may want to go slow in the Jain-Kesri case, but there is little the ED can do, given that the courts are supervising
investigations on a day-to-day basis.
Tussle in Delhi BJP
All is not well in the Bharatiya Janata Party. The 'party with
a difference' now suffers from all the ills that have laid low
the once mighty Congress.
Right under the nose of the central leadership, the BJP's Delhi unit
is riven by dissension. Former chief minister Madan
Lal Khurana, hoping that he would be cleared of the hawala
charge in the light of the Delhi high court judgment in the L
K Advani case, is keen on re-claiming his old job.
But Sahib SinghVerma, who took over from Khurana after the latter
quit on being chargesheeted in the hawala case, has let
it be known that he is no push-over. The party leadership is caught
on the horns of a dilemma for Verma's removal could send a wrong
signal to his caste brothers, the jats, whose support is crucial
for the BJP in parts of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
The Sahib Singh Verma-Om Prakash Kohli group is now keen for
Khurana to contest the parliamentary by-election from East Delhi.
"Khuranaji is a senior leader and vice-president of
the national unit. He should now look after national affairs and
leave the Union territory to us," Verma pleaded with senior party bosses recently.
Clearly, Khurana is not amused.
SPG's burgeoning empire
With the number of VVIPs, including former prime ministers, increasing
inordinately, the services of the Special Protection Group have been stretched.
The ranks of the elite force of commandos are set to increase three-fold if the proposal before the Union Cabinet gets the nod.
The recent fall of one government and the installation of another has added to the woes of Black Cat commandos. When the Deve Gowda government fell, Cabinet Secretary T S R Subramaniam directed the SPG bosses to prepare for the contingency of guarding another set of VVIPs.
Immediately, 12 brand new Ambassador cars were ordered. Since
it takes several months to get these special bullet-proof cars
with imported engines, the SPG had to borrow a couple of Ambassadors
from other governmental organisations.
Given the rough manner in which these cars are used, the SPG ordinarily
junks them in under two years. The SPG at present has 26 VVIPs
to protect. Apart from the fleet of Ambassadors, there has been
an increased use of the arms and ammunition at its disposal.
Among the central police organisations, only the Central Reserve Police Force has a bigger fleet of vehicles. But considering the increasing demands on the SPG, it may soon yield that place to the elite commandos.
Heptullah as Veep?
Who do you think is most keen for Vice-President K R Narayanan
to become President when Dr S D Sharma's term ends in
a couple of months? Of course, none other than Najma Heptullah.
The deputy chairperson of the Rajya Sabha is very keen to step into
Narayanan's shoes. And with that objective, Maulana Azad's grand-niece has unleashed a charm
offensive, hobnobbing every day with the high and mighty in the hope of getting their endorsement for the Veep's job.
Even in the BJP, Heptullah enjoys a good rating, especially with Leader of the Opposition A B Vajpayee. She is also on the best of terms with the Delhi press corps.
Surprisingly, it is Heptullah's Congress party, especially the Maharashtra unit, which is not overly keen on her elevation as vice-president.
All this socialising by Heptullah may come to nought should Dr Sharma insist on a second term. In that case, Narayanan will continue in his present job, putting paid to her vice-presidential dreams.
Woes of a friend
Veteran columnist Kuldip Nayar is a harassed
man these day, thanks to his good friend I K Gujral becoming prime minister.
Favour-seekers have jammed Nayar's telephone and fax lines. Some are seeking transfers, others promotions and yet some others placements for their sons and daughters.
But really audacious was a former minister in the Indira Gandhi government who landed at Nayar's door one evening, seeking his support in order to be appointed India's high commissioner in London.
This small-time politico has been in the political wilderness since Sanjay Gandhi's death. He sought Nayar's help in the name of "good old Punjabi ties." The good-natured Nayar -- himself a former high commissioner to London -- is more embarrassed than pleased with the profusion of attention.