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Virendra Kapoor | January 25, 2003
B C Khanduri is also known as the honest politician
Politics is synonymous with corruption today. So when you hear ‘honest politician' it sort of jars.
But there is a specimen such as that. Meet Major General (retired) B C Khanduri.
A minister of state with independent charge of the road transport and highways ministry, he has gone about his task without seeking publicity. And road-building being a dreary chore, nobody from the media has cared to focus on Khanduri's work.
But that hasn't discouraged the minister, who has continued to devote his energies to the Golden Quadrilateral, which will link Delhi, Bombay, Kolkata and Chennai with a world-class multi-lane highway.
Plus, there will be a corridor of roads running end-to-end, east to west and north to south.
The project is estimated at over Rs 600 billion, and Khanduri's ministry has already forked out contracts worth Rs 250 billion.
The reason we mention his name here is because though there are nearly 150 private contractors both Indian and foreign involved, no one has questioned the tendering process.
That process, all concerned agree, has been scrupulously fair and transparent.
The road network will result in multi-faceted benefits to Indians, besides providing a great fillip to the national economy.
The Delhi-Jaipur toll road, already commissioned, can match the best in the world.
The Golden Quadrilateral, likely to be commissioned this yearend, will be one of the high points in the ruling National Democratic Front's campaign when it seeks a fresh mandate in 2004.
Pay more for petrol
Of course, nothing comes free. Not definitely Khanduri's roads.
To raise funds for it, a novel scheme is in place, under which a Rs 1 cess has been slapped on each litre of petrol and diesel sold.
Since the project is in overdrive, there is a proposal now to hike that by at least 30 per cent.
In other words, after the Budget next month every time you fill up, you will contribute Rs 1.30 towards Khanduri's funds.
But don't curse. It will be worth your while.
Cricket? Or Exams?
Parthvik Patel has a problem.
The youngest member of the Indian cricket team, who as a commentator said ‘is 17 going on 13,' cannot figure out how he can prepare for his board exams in the two days he will get after his return from South Africa.
The Indian wicketkeeper is determined to play the World Cup. He is equally determined not to miss his exams and waste an academic year.
Perhaps, Gujarat's resourceful Chief Minister Narendra Modi can offer him a remedy?
The favoured two
Natwar Singh? Or is it Ambika Soni?
Congressmen, brought up on the durbari culture, haven't been able to figure out just who is closer to Sonia Gandhi. So they bow and scrape before both.
Soni, the Congress president's political secretary, wields enormous clout. Which is why her south Delhi home sees a steady procession of Congress chief ministers and senior leaders.
As for Singh, though his nose-in-the-sky attitude puts off many, Congressmen are deferential to him. For, he is probably the only one who can get an audience with Sonia at short notice.
Illustration: Lynette Menezes