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Reorganise J&K; separate Jammu and Ladakh: leaders

Reorganise J&K; separate Jammu and Ladakh: leaders

Author: Virendra Kapoor
Publication: Afternoon Despatch & Courier
Date: November 28, 2005
URL: http://www.cybernoon.com/DisplayArticle.asp?section=fromthepress&subsection=editorials&xfile=November2005_insidestory_standard131&child=insidestory

Introduction: RJD bosses have found Saptharishi post-retirement employment under the aegis of the central government

Some months ago a senior IAS officer, Lalgudi Vaidhyanathan Saptharishi, caused quite a controversy by publicly accusing Election Commissioners B. B. Tandon and N Gopalaswamy of harbouring an anti-Yadav bias. The 1969 batch West Bengal cadre IAS officer nearing retirement addressed a press conference to fling wild charges against Tandon and Gopalaswamy.

It was his case that as a special election observer several months earlier during the Bihar Lok Sabha poll, he had been specifically instructed by the two ECs to undermine the cause of the Yadavs. Notably, he spared his long-time friend and then Chief Election Commissioner, T. S. Krishnamurthy, thanks to whom he had been appointed as election observer in the first place so that he could stall his repatriation back to his parent cadre.

The resulting furore at the misconduct by a secretary-level IAS officer had obliged the Prime Minister to publicly chastise him. Saptharishi, then posted as Director-General of Council of Advancement of People's Action and Rural Technology under the Ministry of Rural Development which is headed by Laloo Yadav's chief lieutenant, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, had clearly conspired with the RJD bosses in order to blunt the effectiveness of the Election Commission since Tandon was soon to succeed Krishnamurthy as Chief Election Commissioner.

The trade-off between him and the RJD bosses was that he would be allowed to continue as the head of CAPART beyond his retirement age for at least another three years. However the plot misfired. Days before his retirement in July, he was duly repatriated to his parent cadre.

But not for long. Saptharishi is now back in the capital. The RJD bosses, keeping their end of the bargain, have duly found him post-retirement employment under the aegis of the central government itself. In a neat little stratagem, the Rural Development Ministry has allowed Saptharishi to constitute a federation of various NGOs working under CAPART. He has become the founding president of the federation for which substantial funds have been separately released by the ministry.

Saptharishi enjoys the status of a full-fledged secretary and draws equivalent salary and allowances. In short, between him and the Minister of Rural Development, they have thumbed their nose at the PM who had publicly snubbed the opportunistic bureaucrat for throwing mud at the ECs as part of Laloo Yadav's plan to browbeat them into submission.

Shatru scores a self-goal

Bollywood villain-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha's days as a member of the Rajya Sabha are numbered. And thereby hangs a tale of cheap tactics and mean-spirited behaviour by one of Hindi films' most notorious baddies.

This time around he shot himself in the foot by first playing hardball with the BJP leadership and later when it dawned on him that the JD (U)-BJP combine might well emerge

victorious, the party leadership calculatedly rebuffed his efforts to put in an appearance or two on the campaign trail so that he could claim credit for the victory. Now the self-propelling Shotgun is without a friend in the higher echelons of the BJP. As for the

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, well... he never had anything to do with the bombastic actor and is determined to keep him at bay at all costs.

When the election campaign first began, every senior leader of the BJP from the party chief L. K. Advani to Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj tried to persuade the actor to join the campaign. But Shatru made himself scarce, at times refusing to take their calls, other times stringing them along by promising to get back after a couple of days. He never did.

However, as the campaign drew to a close and pollsters predicted NDA to be ahead of the RJD-Congress-CPI(M) combine, Shatru sent SOS to party leadership, making himself available for campaigning. Now, the party rebuffed his overtures.

A clear fall-out of his trademark tantrums is that he would not have anyone in the BJP to back his claim for re-nomination to the Rajya Sabha when his term ends early next year. The BJP reckons that it can well do without villains who begin to play super stars at the time of elections, going to the press about the alleged virtues of rival leaders and picking holes in the selection of party candidates while the campaigning is in full cry.


K C Tyagi for Rajya Sabha

One man who is set to be rewarded for his patience and loyalty to the Janata Dal (U), standing by it even when the going wasn't good for it, is the party general secretary K. C. Tyagi. A former student leader from western UP who had cut his political teeth under the late Chaudhry Charan Singh, KC had lost the last parliamentary election by a slender margin from a constituency in his home State. Now, he is all set to be sent to the Rajya Sabha by the JD (U) from Bihar when the biennial elections become due early next year.

Leaving the core untouched

Following the Volcker disclosures, the Enforcement Directorate has interrogated some half a dozen suspects, including Andy Sehgal, Jameel Saidi, and Arvind Khanna, a Congress MLA from Punjab, besides a few others. But thus far it has not had the gumption to summon the common link to all the above-mentioned people interrogated by it in connection with the oil-for-food scam, namely Natwar Singh's son, Jagat.

After all, it was because of Jagat Singh that Andy, who is his close friend and alleged business partner, that the latter had travelled with him to Iraq as part of a Congress Party delegation led by his father. Jameel, a former Youth Congress functionary in Rajasthan, Natwar's home State, was already in Iraq since he had established business links in a number of West Asian nations for trading and wheeling-dealing operations. Small wonder then suspicions of a grand cover-up are getting stronger by the day.


The Leader can do no wrong

In typical Gandhi family fashion, a conscious attempt is being made to distance Sonia Gandhi from the scam-scarred Natwar Singh - at least in public. As a long-time Nehru-Gandhi family retainer, Natwar has been on the board of the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust and Nehru Memorial Trust right from their inception. Invariably, at the annual functions of the two trusts, he has always been seated on the dais along with Sonia Gandhi and the chief guest. Not this post-Volcker report year, though.

On the occasion of both the annual functions of the Indira Gandhi Trust and the Nehru Memorial lecture this past week, the absence of Natwar Singh was noticed in political circles. Whether he made himself scarce or was told to do so is hard to tell but the impression is unmistakable that the reigning deity of Congressmen at 10 Janpath likes to be Teflon-coated to whom no taint should stick.


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