It was yet another Saturday evening in Delhi.
Among the many exciting things happening in the capital, apparently, was the opening of a new gym, where one Mr Robert Vadra happened to be present.
Which resulted in this:
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There's never a dull moment on Times Now.
While the nation had given up wanting to hear even a word more of the 'analyses' on the MaHa results and the BJP's stupendous performance in Maharashtra and Haryana last night, the Congress party fielded a new spokesperson, intriguingly named Americai V. Narayanan.
Informed by the same spirit of enquiry the channel is justifibaly famous for, the editor in chief of Times Now, Arnab Goswami, asked, on behalf of the nation, whether the Congress party has been punished for supporting corruption. Mr Americai responded:
"If you ask me if there has been corruption in the UPA, hell yeah!"
Hell yeah, it has not stopped trending yet.
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It showed up first in a weekly gossip column some 10 days back:
In Gujarat, Modi kept a close watch on what his Cabinet colleagues and others in the party were up to. The PM seems to have developed an effective feedback mechanism in Delhi as well. Recently, the son of a minister was reportedly asked to come to Modi’s residence. The PM praised him for his good work, but then slipped in a remark that had the young man rattled. Modi said it had come to his knowledge that some money had exchanged hands for the posting of an official. Modi asked him to return the money. The son and his father certainly got the message.
The rumours in the Delhi grapevine had of course done the rounds earlier, but once it reached the mainstream press gossip columns, it was soon on Twitter, with the ever-faithful Modi bhaktas presenting it as the great deed of their Great Leader.
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Writing in the Indian Express, Ritu Sarin quotes from a new book, Unknown Facets of Rajiv Gandhi, Jyoti Basu and Indrajit Gupta, by Dr A P Mukherjee who served as CBI director between 1989-90 that Rajiv Gandhi wanted commissions given by defence suppliers to be pooled and used to fund the "inescapable expenses of the party": Rajiv Gandhi told me to use arms deal payoffs for party funds: Ex-CBI chief
Sarin quotes from Mukherjee's book that he claims to have kept quiet for years because he didn't want to betray the former prime minister's trust, something he could never think of doing:
"However, at this distant time and that too long after his tragic death, I owe it to posterity to narrate the full and complete disclosure of all that transpired between the two of us during this memorable coffee meeting with this remarkable human being whose trust I was privileged to receive in ample measure."
Alluding to a June 1989 conversation, when he was the additional director of the CBI, Mukherjee writes that Rajiv Gandhi told him during this meeting that a lot of money is required to run a large party like the Congress:
"The requirement assumes a huge proportion on the eve of assembly and/or parliamentary elections. This leads to massive fund collections by important party functionaries all over the country, which leads to an almost unbreakable unholy quid pro quo nexus between unscrupulous party functionaries, ministers and businessmen. I could sense this as the party's general secretary or even as its youth leader earlier,"
Mukherjee says that towards the end of 1984, Rajiv Gandhi came to know that some
"senior officers of the armed forces had been surreptitiously collecting huge amounts of money as 'commissions' in respect of most of the defence purchases, quite often in connivance with some ministers, middlemen and civilian officers as well"
"Rajiv Gandhi was very clear that commissions paid as a routine by most defence dealers should be properly accounted for and not siphoned off by dishonest officials of the armed forces and politicians...he wanted such payments to be pooled and accounted for..."
"[Rajiv Gandhi] discussed this problem with some of his trusted colleagues and advisers when it was suggested by some that all commissions as payable or usually paid to middlemen should be banned but the commissions to be given as a matter of routine practice by the suppliers of major defence materials could be pooled under the care of some non-government entity which could be utilised solely for the purpose of meeting the inescapable expenses of the party.
"As Rajiv Gandhi further stated, such a step would largely prevent the collusive nexus between the middlemen, ministers, bureaucrats and that such a step could enable the government to do away with the quid pro quo relationship with some unscrupulous businessmen and equally unscrupulous politicians and bureaucrats.
"Hence he endorsed the same. He also indicated that he favoured some legislation in line with the practices of some of the western countries where contributions to party funds by business houses and industrial houses and individuals were allowed with provisions for their proper accounting, auditing and public disclosure. But the wild, motivated and widespread adverse publicity obscured the prospect of proceeding further in the above manner."
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"Coal mafia is not outside the government. It exists within the Ministry of Coal," wrote P.C. Parakh, the then coal secretary to the then cabinet secretary B.K. Chaturvedi on March 22, 2005.
Parakh who is now an accused in the CBI's investigation into the coal block allocation scam went on to add: "There is large-scale black marketing and generation of black money through patronage of coal mafia in the current system of marketing of coal"
Parakh has been accused of favouring industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla's firm Hindalco in an allocation which the CBI states was cleared by the "competent authority", in what is being seen as a possible reference to the prime minister.
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Parakh's explosive letter was an angry response to the five-page show-cause notice served by the cabinet secretary on February 12, 2005, based on the then tainted coal minister Shibu Soren's letter of February 7, 2005 to the prime minister, charging his ministry's secretary of being an "NDA man" who was "disobedient" and "hiding information on the coal mafia."