Media mogul slams PM's closest advisers

Vol 4, PW 24 (17 Jan 01) People & Policy

Who really runs India Is it prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, or is it his national security adviser and former Indian diplomat Brajesh Mishra Worse, is it the PM's unelected and elusive son-in-law, Ranjan Bhattacharya Until recently,questions many were too scared to ask.

Today, they figure in a blazing row between Indian TV mogul and former BJP parliamentarian R.K Jain, owner of Jain Television, and the Prime Minister's Office.

On 5th January, Jain TV carried a blistering attack on Brajesh Mishra, accusing him of wielding unacceptable power within the Vajpayee government. Jain now promises to "investigate" Bhattacharya and to air a similarly "revealing" programme in due course.

As Principal Secretary to the PM, Mishra's. proximity to Vajpayeeis legendary.

Aged 72, he's the prime minister's self-proclaimed trouble-shooter and regularly appears on TV to promote his media-shy boss. His high profile friendship with Vajpayee, who rarely overturns his advice,provokes jealousy among cabinet ministers and senior officials.

Of Bhattacharya, little is known because he consistently maintains a low, shadowy profile. What we do know is that he is married to the PM's "adopted" daughter, is a permanent fixture at many official gatherings and appears to wield more influence than his unelected status would merit.