A Sorry Figure

PR Ramesh is Managing Editor of Open
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More canary than parrot | What Rahul wants | Some like it hot

Tracy Chapman once sang, ‘Sorry... years gone by and still / Words don’t come easily/ Like sorry, sorry.’ It seems Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal may have been a fan of the American singer. He has been shooting off apology letters by the shovels full to a clutch of people he once publicly derided as corrupt and venal. From Bikram Singh Majithia to Kapil Sibal’s son Amit, to… well, you name him, he had gone on the offensive only to find himself slammed with heavy defamation law suits. But the star of the AAP chief’s apology show, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, is proving to be his real nightmare. Jaitley had filed two cases against Kejriwal, seeking compensation of Rs 20 crore. Desperate feelers on an out-of- court settlement have not brought Kejriwal any relief. It has been made clear Jaitleywill not settle for just an apology letter. Or even a public one addressed to him in a press briefing. Anticipating this, Kejriwal has not only assigned his Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia to approach Jaitley on the subject of a rapprochement— done on the sidelines of GST Council meetings—he has assigned his party’s new Rajya Sabha member, Narain Das Gupta, to soften Jaitley up. As a chartered accountant, Gupta apparently knows Jaitley personally, and this is what Kejriwal has been counting on. So far, though, even this effort to reach out has failed.

Apart from Kejriwal, five others are named in the defamation suit, too: Sanjay Singh, Ashutosh, Raghav Chadda, Kumar Vishwas and Deepak Bajpai. They would all need to be corralled together for a joint ‘sorry’. But this is no longer easy for Kejriwal now, given his faltering authority over some of them. Including, or perhaps especially Sanjay Singh, who is currently believed to be playing footsie with the Congress in an effort to chart his own political course independent of AAP. Kejriwal’s troubles aren’t close to ending anytime soon.

More Canary than Parrot

More Canary than ParrotThe Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) may soon be rechristened the Canary Broadcasting Institute. Not too long ago, it gained notoriety as a ‘caged parrot’. That was a stinging taunt that the court used for the investigating agency, whose strings appeared to be in the hands of those in power in New Delhi. The nickname stuck even after the Modi Government assumed charge, with the opposition accusing the new dispensation too of using the CBI like a pet to ‘fix’ its political opponents and critics. However, now, the CBI seems more of a canary than a parrot. Its officials, split into factions, are busy trying to ‘fix’ their rivals within the Bureau by leaking information on sensitive cases—in short, singing like canaries to all and sundry. And this war within comes as comfort for Congress politicians and their wards who were found with their hands in the till.

What Rahul Wants

What Rahul WantsDays after the two-day Plenary Session of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) which began on March 16th in Delhi, party leaders are still playing Treasure Hunt. They have their eyes peeled and ears turned for the new Congress Working Committee (CWC) that their President Rahul Gandhi promised would be reconstituted soon after the session. In right royal preparation for this, this panel comprising senior, decision-making party leaders was dissolved in mid-February, and a steering committee constituted in its place. High drama arose over the question of whether Rahul Gandhi would go in for elections to the CWC or appoint members of his choice. The last time an election was held for it was back in 1997, so why there was any speculation at all is a mystery.

In any case, the Congress statute provides for the election of only 12 of the CWC’s 25 members, the other 13 are nominated. It was no surprise that in a speech at the AICC session that bordered on the farcical, Gandhi took direct potshots at his critics. He went to the extent of accusing them of not being in touch with the pulse of party workers, even promising to ‘demolish’ a supposed wall that stood between Congress leaders and the rest. He received thunderous applause from the audience, especially from the youth, for this statement. But if they thought inner-party democracy was finally coming their way, they were in for a shock. Soon after, an obliging senior leader—Ghulam Nabi Azad—playing his part in the farce, moved a resolution proposing that the Congress president nominate CWC members. This, after he had asked delegates whether there should be an election to the panel, which they dutifully rejected. The Plenary Session that endorsed Gandhi as the party’s top leader is long over, but there is little news of anything being done either way. On current indications, the CWC may finally be reconstituted only after the upcoming Assembly polls in Karnataka. With a General Election due not too long afterwards, it’s not clear what time frame he has in mind to do what he wants to, whatever it may be.

Some Like it Hot

Some Like it HotSome politicians are serial sex offenders. They get caught with their pants down, over and over. Sometimes the act is consensual. Sometimes, it’s consensual for a fee. And they cannot always talk their way out of the mess. A renowned legal eagle and Congressman recently went to meet a client at a five-star hotel in Lutyens’ Delhi. They had a good chat, made a good deal. As the client was leaving, the man in question leaned towards him and quietly suggested he arrange for ‘some company’. The client, clearly accustomed to such requests, stepped out. Soon enough, the ‘company’ herself appeared in the politician’s room. A few hours later, when the lady asked to be paid, the man directed her to the client who’d arranged it. At this, the companion created a ruckus in the hotel. Not to be deterred by that episode, the politico was soon spotted at another five-star hotel barely 2 km away from the first, showering unwarranted attention on a lady at the property’s spa. Since then, he’s been barred from entering the premises.