Grandma's Tales

August 5, 2007

I’m not watching Bourne Ultimatum

Filed under: Games People Play,Government,Society — Geeta Padmanabhan @ 2:38 am

I watched the first two of the Bourne adventures and when I heard of the third, I said, “Bourne Again!” I wanted to see what Matt Damon was up to this time. “This week-end,” I thought. And then the story of Ashok Malhotra hit the headlines, making my plan redundant, even unnecessary.
Here is the Malhotra episode in brief. It is based on preliminary reports and all of them may not be accurate but this is the broad outline.
Fifteen years ago, Ashok Malhotra made a living dispensing chai-pani to members of the Delhi Assembly. He did this out of a broken down auto rickshaw. He still delivers (did till a couple of days ago) chai-pani to his customers at the spot. But oh boy, how the colour of the chai-pani had changed! And he got a lot more than a smile from his satisfied customers, most of whom were political vultures wearing the MLA label of legitimacy.
Today, this chaiwala has a fleet of luxury cars in his compound. All of them wear VIP number plates – something for which you need to pay a premium for legal ownership. He also owns property (real estate) worth Rs. 100 crores. His wealth is supposed to have grown out of the land deals he was involved in. When the DDA made land allotments, AM used his political connections and got several prime plots allotted to him under various names. Did he forge documents? May be.
Why would the politicos oblige him? He routinely lent his luxury sedans with VIP plates to MLAs for free use. See the perfectly symbiotic relationship here? The allotment of VIP plates for which AM probably didn’t pay a penny goes very deep – right to Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s office.
Dikshit has claimed she doesn’t know Malhotra. According to another report, she explained that she signed papers granting VIP number requests on the recommendation of the transport ministry. She had done it in good faith.
Malhotra’s shenanigans came to light when the CBI was looking into irregularities in DDA land distribution. They suspected AM was a middleman in the DDA land scam. They landed at Ashok Malhotra’s house in north Delhi’s Mukherji Nagar looking for documents in connection with a DDA scam. And there they were treated to a line up of luxury cars with VIP number plates.
AM made his money in the land distribution deal. Why would he continue to make chai in the assembly compound? The answer is pure hearsay now, spewing out of disgruntled Congress elements, some pro and others against Dikshit.
Having filled his bank accounts (do they ever get filled?), AM was aiming for political influence. He wanted to play king-maker. The grapevine news is, he had given luxury limousines to 15 MLAs in a conspiracy to overthrow Dikshit as Chief Minister. (What are plain earthen plots when you can lay hands on political ones?) The CMs office got wind of it and the CM herself is supposed to have initiated proceedings against the “rebel” legislators.
All this is in speculation zone. The question here is simple: How did AM go from canteen owner to VIP contractor? How did he get these cars?
I wish someone would collect this and similar stories (Telgi, Harshad Mehta?) of roguery and thieving in high places. And sell them to Hollywood screenplay writers. Any day, they will make screen plays far superior
to anything the Bourne writers can think of – in intrigue, chicanery and the brazen exploitation of a system and the people it is supposed to benefit. Matt Damon and company can look forward to a lifetime of roles. Can they fight these villains and emerge unscathed? That will be interesting to watch.

So, now you know why I’ve dropped the idea of buying tickets for Bourne Ultimatum. Why would I squander dollars when I can have better stories in my backyard?


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