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?



  1. You don’t have any of these chaps shooting each other or crashing through glass – perhaps, soon, but not yet. That’s one reason to watch The Bourne Ultimatum, I guess.

    Comment by Navaneethan Santhanam — August 5, 2007 @ 3:46 am | Reply

  2. This is off-topic, sorry – What are your thoughts on the proposed Adyar Eco Park (Adyar Poonga) that MK inaugurated about 2 weeks ago? It sounded like a fantastic conservation project to me, something to compete with the likes of Lal Bagh in Bangalore. However, recently, I read somewhere that the plan for the part was environmentally unsustainable and that the court had ordered the Govt. to freeze all plans for further construction. This strikes me as being rather strange considering that the park is supposed to protect the Adyar Creek ecosystem. I hope something is worked out and they do go through with the park’s (for want of a better word) ‘construction.’

    Comment by Navaneethan Santhanam — August 5, 2007 @ 3:53 am | Reply

  3. [1] Good point, NS. For these guys who can buy and sell public land with impunity, these are minor matters. Besides, most of their work is done silently, behind doors, right?

    Comment by Geeta Padmanabhan — August 5, 2007 @ 9:31 am | Reply

  4. [2] NS, I have been away from Chennai for a while now, so I don’t know the latest buzz. Before I left, this is what I heard. The proposed park would certainly be an environmental disaster for the Adyar bio-diversity. The creek has a fragile eco-system. It will collapse with people walking in and out and throwing more rubbish into the river. In the name of “Poonga” what you will get is a lot of civil construction like pathways, open air theatres, lights and gazebos. This is what they proposed for the “beautification” of the Elliot’s beach till the Civil society Group and Friends of the Beach – Exnora demanded they stop it. They had to call the Commissioner and prove that it would be a disastrous move. (Read about it in my previous posts). After the people’s initiative at the Elliot’s beach, all those who supported the original plan quietly withdrew. Have you seen the proposed Adyar Eco-Park plan?

    Comment by Geeta Padmanabhan — August 5, 2007 @ 9:40 am | Reply

  5. I have seen the plan, but I wasn’t aware of the creek’s fragile ecosystem. Damn, I thought this would’ve been a good thing for Chennai, but I guess not. I suppose it’s a good thing that the court stopped the Govt. from doing anything harmful.

    Comment by Navaneethan Santhanam — August 8, 2007 @ 8:09 pm | Reply

  6. Hi Geeta, please add your blog to our new directory of Indian Blogs, thanks!

    And you really should go watch the Bourne Ultimatum. 🙂

    Comment by indiblogger — August 18, 2007 @ 7:32 pm | Reply

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