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Capital Buzz/Virendra Kapoor

Too old, too old

Young, he's got to be, and cramped full of beans. Who would want an old-oldie with arthritis, asthma and a 1947-vision for party president? Yuck!

That's Bharatiya Janata Party veteran Atal Bihari Vajpayee's strong sentiment. About general secretary Kushabhau Thakre succeeding outgoing president Lal Kishinchand Advani.

Vajpayee isn't very sure whether Thakre -- who, incidentally, is one of the BJP's many general secretaries -- has arthritis and asthma, but he is very, very sure about the gentleman's antiquity.

"The next president should be young and dynamic," Vajpayee mutters whenever the subject is brought up, "Not old, not old."

Unfortunately, other senior leaders don't see it that way. What, they ask, is 70somethingness and lack-of-dynamism between friends? But Vajpayee isn't convinced.

"Shouldn't be old, not old," he mutters again, "Now, if it was someone like Pramod Mahajan..."

"Mahajan?" other leaders, including RSS bosses, cry, "No way! Too young, too young! Thakre is just ideal. It's fixed, he will take over in November at the plenary session!"

Hmm, November is almost here, but Vajpayee had the plenary session postponed to next year. Official reason: the expected fall of Inder Kumar Gujral and company. And the real one? That small matter of age, what else?

"Too old, too old," Vajpayee shakes his head, "Now if it was someone like Mahajan..."

Hide and seek

Folks, another Vajpayee tale before we move on, okay?

The veteran is in an unforgiving mood against general secretary K N Govindacharya for having described him as the party's mukhota (mask) rather than mukh (head).

A 'purported' transcript of Govindacharya's conversation with two middle-level British diplomats was published in a couple of Hindi newspapers. The general secretary, as is usual in such cases, denied the statement.

Never even dreamt of thinking of saying such things, he conveyed to the mukh.

But no, Vajpayee wasn't convinced. And though Govindacharya went on making placatory noises at public meetings, the senior leader refused to believe him. He clenched his teeth, flexed his fibres and prepared to take the general secretary apart the moment he set eyes on him.

Govindacharya, luckily for him, had sensitive ears -- he heard the noises, read them right and took evasive action.

Thus, last Sunday, when the BJP office-bearers met at the party headquarters, the general secretary rushed out of town for urgent work. Again, on Tuesday, he made it a point to leave the podium minutes before Vajpayee showed up to address the two-day national convention of the Bharatiya Janata yuva morcha!

Wonder how long Govindacharya would keep up this game of hide and seek.

Paswan's pass at Joginder

Union Railway Minister Ram Vilas Paswan is a great one for making passes.

Sorry, but don't read us wrong, folks. What we mean aren't those kind of passes, but the railway variety... the ones used to travel with, you know?

Well, Paswan has now gone and made out a golden pass for former CBI director Tiger Joginder Singh and wife. For no apparent reason but that he felt particularly generous at that particular moment.

As a former Railway Protection Force director general, Mr and Mrs Tiger already had an ordinary pass, valid for four trips annually. But now, with Paswan's golden gesture, the couple can check out the Indian railways unlimited times.

Symbols of corruption

Some two years ago, the Delhi municipal authorities, not unusually for them, were dragged to a city court. The suit was about illegally erected hoardings.

The court said, yes, there definitely was a case against them. It went ahead with the trial. And in the process, stayed the pulling down of old hoardings and, also, barred the erection of new ones till the case was decided.

Two years later, you find the case lingering on... and twice as many hoardings as before all over the city!

The 'how' behind it is very simple. Municipal officials, for a moderate price, quietly added new hoardings to the list of old ones impugned by the stay order.

Curiously, the 50th Independence anniversary hype brought with it yet another opportunity for unscrupulous advertisers -- most of the hoardings that came up commemorating heroes like Bhagat Singh and Subhas Chandra Bose now advertise consumer products!

Help! Rape! Assault! Murder!

Four complaints against four persons in four months -- surely this lady we are talking about here is having a difficult time?

Yep, she is -- but not the way you think.

Fact is, our heroine (she is a journalist, by the way) has got a sort of disease, one hitherto unheard of: police mania. Cross her way one way or the other and she runs to the nearest police station.

"Help! Rape! Assault! Murder!" she screams, "I have just been murdered!"

"Murdered, ma'am," the officer-in-charge, naturally, is astounded, "Where? When? By whom?"

"Yeah, murdered! And assaulted and raped! By ---," she replies, "At his house. He tried to, but I escaped! Please take down my complaint!"

The first person who got into our scribe's bad book was a scion of a leading newspaper baron's family: she charged him with molestation.

The latest of her preys is a senior BJP leader. The charge is assault.

Only, the police, instead of taking down her complaint, asked her to take a walk. And keep walking. So now, the journalist, armed with a doctor's certificate, is haunting a lawyer to move court.

The BJP leader's mistake, it would appear, was that he refused her entry into his house where, for almost two years, she was a constant fixture. His friends insist he had given the `journalist' the benefit of doubt, despite several complaints about her misconduct. But when she filed a molestation suit against the newspaper baron-to-be, he decided enough was enough.

His refusal to see her, however, had led to a hot exchange of words. And, true to her reputation, the lady ran to the police screaming blue assault!

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