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Capital Buzz/Virendra Kapoor

The brother also rises

If big brother can do it, so can the little one.

And so, Delhi has a new celebrity: Satish Gujral, Prime Minister Inder Kumar's artist brother. While big bro' is busy trying to retain his job, Satish seems to have all the time in the world for cocktail parties. He is high on the list of the capital's 'in-crowd', keen for their own private bridge to the government.

A little while ago, the beleaguered chief of a government-owned hotel chain wined and dined Satish and family at Hotel Ashok. The official desperately wanted his tenure to be renewed, so would the artist put in a favourable word? Satish, who had ate and drank his fill, is believed to have nodded his head understandingly...

Incidentally, the artist has landed himself a couple of good assignments abroad to do murals in -- where else? -- Indian missions!

Blood, after all, is thicker than water, na?

Narayanan's unusual guest-ure

As is customary with him, President K R Narayanan hosted a dinner for prominent Keralites in the capital to celebrate Onam.

But regulars were surprised to find a few unusual, first-time-invitees loitering around. There was a small-time astrologer, a retired junior-level Central Reserve Police officer, a junior air force officer, a clerk in a government organisation ... and a few more.

Naturally, the matter had to be probed. And the truth came out.

Apparently, even Rashtrapati Bhavan is not immune from graft. The regular caterer, it would appear, was denied the contract this Onam because he refused to pay Rs 5,000 in bribe to a minor Rashtrapati Bhavan functionary who handled hospitality.

The astrologer, a pal of our hospitality official, conjured up another caterer at short notice. And added a few names to the guest list, including his own!

Bumbling Gujral

An exasperated Doordarshan viewer was impelled to write the following for the benefit of our readers. Here is what he has to say, word for word:

Dear Rediff,

Prime Minister Gujral finds it difficult to conduct himself with dignity on solemn occasions.

Gujral visited Calcutta to pay homage to Mother Teresa 'on behalf of the nation.' The poor man did not have a clue as to what he was supposed to do. After signing the condolence book, he walked up to the nuns, laid a wreath at Mother's feet and walked out -- all in less than two minutes! He was almost out of the church when someone told him he ought to spend some time attending the prayers.

Quickly he returned and sat on a bench. A handwritten message was given to him to read out. Neither he nor the church authorities were prepared for it. A microphone was snatched from the hymn-singers and handed over to Gujral, who was left to struggle with a microphone and the sheaf of papers. Anyway, he manfully fumbled through.

The picture he presented to the world was that of a bumbling prime minister who did not know what he was supposed to say or do, leave alone knowing how to do it!

Yours sincerely,

And to think all of us, till now, thought that H D Deve Gowda was the ultimate!

It's he, the gobar gas editor!

The thought is scary. Imagine, having veteran journalist B G Verghese at the head of Doordarshan and All India Radio! Help!

But that, if indications are true, is what's going to happen shortly, thanks to the Prasar Bharati Act and the autonomous corportation for DD and AIR it proposes. There is -- but naturally -- great fear in some circles that under Verghese the audiovisual media would become dull as ditchwater, given his penchant for 'development' stories.

Verghese, if you remember, is the same one who used to be known as the gobar gas editor during his Hindustan Times days in the early 70s.

Meanwhile, Information and Broadcasting Minister S Jaipal Reddy says it will take another six months for the autonomous corporation -- and Verghese, if he be it -- to swing into action.

Thank god for small mercies!

Nijilingappa's last hurrah

Another old man, but not in too much of a hurry. All he has in his heart is the welfare of the country.

And so S Nijilingappa, veteran Congressman and president of the undivided party when Indira Gandhi split it in 1969, has launched the Gandhian Forum. To fight all the unseemly goings-on in the polity.

But Nijilingappa's way of fighting corruption appears to be a bit strange -- for, present at the forum's first meeting were the same-old tainted netas who had allegedly overstrained themselves in sullying Indian politics.

Former Haryana strongman Devi Lal and former Union minister Balram Jakhar inspired little confidence in a non-politician whom Nijilingappa invited on board. Neither did Rajesh Pilot's presence -- and that too as the working president of the forum!

Small wonder then our non-politician wrote to Nijilingappa that he will be a nonstarter.

Frugal, frugal Kesri

A Congressman was talking to a coffee-vendor near the party headquarters.

"Chacha (Sitaram Kesri) is such a nice man," the young politician was saying, "And so simple. Despite the power of his position, he goes around in a simple, unwashed kurta-dhoti..."

The coffee-vendor nodded. He knew about Kesri's kurta-dhoti.

"He is so nice with us youngsters," the would-be neta said, "He laughs with us, jokes with us, even kisses us!"

The coffee-vendor nodded again. He had heard about that too.

"And Chacha lives such a spartan life," the politician continued enthusiastically, "You know, he lives on a mere Rs 1,400 per month! Imagine!"

By this time, he had finished his coffee. He paid up and was about to go when the coffee-vendor spoke.

"Kesriji ko batayiye," he said, "ki peechle mahine ke rasgoola aur coffee ka bill do hazaar hai (Please tell Kesriji that the last month's bill for rasogolla and coffee is Rs 2,000)!"

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