The list of foreign dignitaries who attended Narendra Modis Vibrant Gujarat function was as impressive as the turnout of Indian industry. The PM,deputy PM and half a dozen ministers of Kenya attended the conclave,along with the finance minister of Singapore and ministers from several countries,including Italy,Sri Lanka and Uganda. British MPs who came announced that 146 members of the House of Commons had passed a resolution endorsing the spirit behind Vibrant Gujarat. Incidentally,the Ministry of External Affairs sat over Gujarats invitation to Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga till Prime Minister Manmohan Singh personally intervened and wrote a letter to his Kenyan counterpart. It was noticeable that neither L.K. Advani nor any other BJP leader from Delhi was invited to Modis show,which showcased him as much as it did his state.
The Delhi Government and Jaipal Reddys Ministry for Urban Development have fallen out over the sharing arrangement of government bungalows in the Capital. For 40 years the official residences of senior government employees were treated as a common pool. But faced with a huge housing shortfall the CPWD has now concluded that it is the loser in the pool arrangement. The ministry wants to get the 40-odd bungalows in Lutyens Delhi that are occupied by Delhi High Court judges vacated. The Delhi Government has protested that the ministry should first allot land in a central part of the Capital for the judges.
In 2002,when the Income Tax authorities,following a tip-off,wanted to examine Satyams books,the deputy I-T director in charge of the investigations was locked up in a room by company officials while Satyam chief Ramalinga Raju contacted Chandrababu Naidu. The then chief minister telephoned Finance Minister Jaswant Singhs office and the Income Tax team was recalled. But somebody alerted RPI MP Ramdas Athawale who sent a long report on Satyams shady business practices to SEBI and the Finance Ministry. He got no response. The same authorities were equally unresponsive when a highly respected Economic Affairs Secretary EAS Sarma wrote to his Company Affairs counterpart seeking a probe into Satyam many years back. Sarmas recent warning before the scandal broke,demanding an inquiry into the companys land deals were also ignored.
Networked net czar
It is largely thanks to the influence of Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy,one of the biggest fund raisers of the Congress,that the government decided to help Satyam. But it is not just Andhra politicians alone who are batting for Raju. The savvy trickster had cultivated political friends all over India through Satyams sister organisations. For instance,Rajus Kshatriya.com enterprise helped him network with Thakur MPs. The EMRI emergency ambulance service was launched in many states and had former president Abdul Kalam as one of its patrons. According to insiders,scrutiny will show that EMRIs medical centres are located in the constituencies of some important politicians.
Amar Singh is not someone you pick a quarrel with lightly. He believes in settling scores and never forgives an insult. The Samajwadi Party leader has made it clear that his party will go to any lengths to damage the poll prospects of Raj Babbar,Beni Prasad Verma and Salman Khursheed. Despite the alliance with the Congress,Singh has unilaterally announced candidates for the three constituencies from where Babbar,Verma and Khursheed are planning to contest. Although Babbar and Verma are still SP MPs,technically,they fell out with the party and joined forces with the Congress well before the SP-Congress alliance was arrived at. Khursheed is one of the few Congresspersons from the state who dared to take on Singh.
To make sure that Babbar finds it difficult to retain his Agra seat,the SP admitted one-time Lok Dal youth leader and former high commissioner to Fiji,Ajay Singh,into its fold last week. Ajay was immediately announced as the SP candidate from Fatehpur Sikri,which is part of the old Agra constituency. Babbar and Ajay were once together in the Janata Dal with V.P. Singh. Ajay was elected from Agra in 1988 and Babbar won in 1999 and 2004 on an SP ticket.