The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Soda takes fizz off Sonia secret service

Bhopal, Aug. 24: Meet Amar Nath, an agent on Madam’s secret service. His mission: to prepare a two-page report in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh addressing 10 points like issues, prospects and potential candidates, mark it “for Madam’s eyes only” and deliver it.

But 007 slipped in Indore, blowing his cover and throwing Digvijay Singh’s administration into a tizzy.

The former associate of Sitaram Kesri was caught and jailed for impersonation for a few hours before the chief minister, caught unawares by Sonia Gandhi’s spy, rushed to his rescue. He was sent off to Delhi after a treatment befitting party leaders.

Nath is not alone in the Congress spy ring.

Scores of mostly “apolitical” persons have fanned out to gather crucial feedback for Madam, as Sonia is addressed by party workers. The mandate is not to meet local partymen or seek their hospitality. Just check into a hotel, pay for food and scout.

The idea took root as 10 Janpath is said to have been keen on “independent feedback” and wanted to check a “nexus” of AICC office-bearers and state leaders during ticket distribution.

But Nath broke the first rule of espionage — be secretive — for petty favours. His proximity to “chacha” had taught him that the password “high command” would loosen every Congressman’s purse strings.

In Indore, Nath met district Congress chief Ujagar Singh and asked for goodies, including “soda”, for the evening. Worldly-wise Ujagar was in no mood to oblige — he had just pandered to the wishes of AICC observer and Punjab MP Shamsher Singh Dillon.

A suspicious Ujagar checked with Dillon about the person claiming to be a nominee of the high command. When Dillon claimed ignorance, he sounded the police, saying Nath was an imposter looking to make a killing at the time of ticket distribution.

A raid showed he was carrying maps, constituency profiles and other poll-related data. Stronger measures forced Nath to blurt out the truth: he was in town on the advice of Vishwajit Prithivjit Singh, the portly head of the AICC’s computer wing, a self-proclaimed pollster who enjoys proximity to 10 Janpath.

Calls flew fast and furious from Indore to Bhopal and from Bhopal to Delhi. After Congress secretary Daljeet Singh confirmed Nath’s credentials, Digvijay, fresh from the Nashik Kumbh, spoke to the Indore superintendent of police for Nath’s release.

Within hours, Nath was on his way to Bhopal in a luxurious Opel Astra, this time sipping only Aquafina.

Though he had stopped at Sonkach for the local delicacy, poha, a sumptuous meal awaited him at the state guesthouse. He was then rushed to the station for an overnight journey to Delhi in an AC two-tier berth of the Shan-e-Bhopal.

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