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Capital Buzz/Virendra Kapoor

Mosquito raj

I K Gujral Never mind he is the Indian prime minister, but a man is a man is a man -- and he is for biting.

So think the mosquitoes of 7, Race Course road. And Inder Kumar Gujral has to bear the bite of it!

The vast lawns of the ministerial residence are a happy breeding ground for these winged pests, and they sure make good use of it. The day Gujral moved into his official residence, they gave him a wonderful, warm welcome.

All buzzy and bity.

Only, Gujral didn't find it quite, well, touching. In fact, he found it pretty annoying and, while gun-totting black cats kept an alert vigile for intruders, fought a lonely battle against the army of hosts.

Swattt, there goes one. Swattt, that's another!

Now mosquitoes being mosquitoes (and used to being swatted all over the place) didn't really mind the Gujral-ian swats. They kept right at it. The black cats, they didn't quite find interesting... but Gujral, ah!

A little later, in walked two correspondents of the Financial Times to interview the (then) new PM -- and was accorded the same kind of welcome. ("C'mon guys, fresh blood, fresh blood!") Taking cue from Gujral, the foreigners too took evasive action. And kept with it all through their interview.

"Mr Gujral---" Swattt, there goes one, "Do you-" Swattt, that's another!

Of teeth, bites and Gujral's dentistry

As we just informed you, I K Gujral doesn't like anything with teeth, anything that bites. Forget mosquitoes, he can't even stand laws.

Which is why he is planning to do something about the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act that has bit quite a few bigwigs this past few years. FERA, if Gujral has his way (and chances are he will, easily), would soon be transformed into a molar-less something -- namely, the Foreign Exchange Management Act. More than Gujral, it is P Chidambaram who is exerting pressure to change FERA.

The required ordinance (already framed) is expected to be promulgated soon after the current Parliament session ends. However, all those who have been FERA-bitten (ITC, Shaw Wallace, the Jain brothers... remember?) will remain bitten -- the amendment, experts say, if with retrospective effect, would not pass muster either in Parliament or the courts.

Surprisingly, neither Gujral nor Chidambaram thought it worth their whiles to consult the one agency which is deeply involved in enforcing FERA -- the Enforcement Directorate.

Wonder why.

Ambassadors of mischief

Fie, fie! What's happening to our IAS-wallahs now?

Recently, we read about the lady IAS officer who thought pinching things from the Marks and Spencer store in London was the in-thing.

Now we have another pinching case on hands. Of East European bottoms and, er, more.

Our gentleman diplomat, a promotee IFS officer in an East European mission, had a problem with his hands -- they kept wandering. Not all the time, mind you, but whenever there was a local lady employee around. Which, incidentally, was quite frequent.

Not many enjoyed it, but none dared to complain -- the diplomat threatened he would butt them out if they dared complain. So they kept silent and our hero had a nice, fine time. Till, finally, the women took the matter into their hands.

When things got really intolerable, they made a unified complaint to their own country's foreign office which, in turn, lodged a protest with the Indian government.

An inquiry was ordered which confirmed the veracity of the wandering hands. And our Lothario has been recalled.

Meanwhile, the other woman -- we mean the shoplifting lady -- has come out with an imaginative explanation for her misdemeanour: she did what she did because the London people 'harboured a prejudice against her due to her non-brahmanical origins!'

Fix, fixing, fixed!

Where would Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav be without his Sancho Panza, Amar Singh, MP and the emperor among capital's fixers?

Nowhere, that's where. Well... that might be an exaggeration, but nowhere near where he is now.

If there is anything Mulayam wants, all he is got to do is whisper in Singh's ears and it is as good as done.

Singh is now working overtime on a Mulayam-project -- to wit, Central Bureau of Investigation Director Joginder Singh'sreplacement with R C Sharma (now the Bureau's additional director.) Or, failing which, with Intelligence Director Arun Bhagat.

Bhagat too is supremely keen on the post -- and as proof of his keenness, the bulky dossier which the IB had built up on Singh over the years has gone missing.

Socialising for lucre

Socialite Bina Ramani knows which side her bread is buttered. And if the bread is not buttered at all, you can rely on her to get it buttered.

The lady is a genius at staying on the right side of politicians, businessman and all who matters -- and sure enough, sooner or later, her contacts pay off.

Recently, her connection with a smalltime restaurateur-turned-politician-turned-business-tycoon seems to be paying off. In a controversial move she acquired, ostensibly for restoration, an old haveli next to the historic Qutab Minar. Soon, heritage watchers fear, the haveli might turn out to be a new watering hole for the capital's puppies -- namely, the upwardly mobile Punjabis.

However, the CBI sleuths are not much impressed with her connections; and are plodding ahead with the investigation on Ramani's business links with Chandra Swami. A team of sleuths has already left for New York (where she used to stay) to get evidence about how she helped Chandra Swami launder his ill-gotten funds.

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