Scoop! Builder lobby to mount coup against Chavan today

Ever since Maharashtra's 'Mr Clean', Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan began reforming real estate laws, he has been on the all powerful builders' hit list

>> This diarist has received information that a move to oust Chavan has been launched today when 13 MLAs from Maharashtra are being flown this afternoon to Delhi to meet Ahmed Patel, A K Antony, Mohan Prakash, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra to register their protest against the CM.

The plank they will use is the Congress' dismal performance at the municipal and zilla elections which they will try and blame on Chavan's inability to manipulate the State administration for a favourable result at the hustings. But a Congress MP who does not wish to be named is convinced that given the UP electoral results and the perceived anti-Congress wave sweeping the country, party bosses will see through this ruse, he informs us.

"The coup has been orchestrated by a nexus of city builders and Congress heavyweights." The MLAs will reach Delhi on Monday afternoon and will stay in the Shangrila Hotel. Earlier a private jet was supposed to transport the MLAs to the capital to ensure their presence but whether they end up flying in it or commercial is uncertain, says the insider.

Interestingly, an independent MLA who has a case of physical abuse registered against him for beating up a clerk in the Health Ministry will also be in the contingent along with another MLA with a flourishing police record who is a staunch follower and mascot of Baba Ramdev. Ever since the CM had announced a change in the Development Control Rules, after city activists had been pointing out that the redevelopment of Dharavi was a bonanza for the developer lobby, the State's all powerful builder lobby has had him on their radar.

Chavan had attempted to involve MHADA, ensure a level playing field by issuing an international tender and restricting the local builders' role to construction that obviously hurt their profit interests. Then again Chavan's reformist intervention in FSI regulations, seeking to make them more transparent and fair to buyers, has also resulted in massive losses for builders who were exploiting the earlier gray areas for massive gains at the cost of home-buyers.

We are not pointing fingers but prominent builders affected by Chavan's reformist zeal are a mega South Mumbai builder, active on the Western Express Highway, another prominent developer in Pune and a construction giant operating in the Thane and Dombivli area. Whether Cong bosses will take the rebel MLAs' cry for Chavan's head seriously or dismiss it as a campaign mounted by vested interests will be known over the next few days. Meanwhile, even as you read this MLAs are winging their way to Delhi, and you heard it here first.

Bajaj's Mystery Female Flight Companion
When Rajiv Bajaj winner of the Business Standard Best CEO of 2011 Award last week went up to receive his award, he began by requesting the audience's indulgence. "Brevity doesn't run in the family" he quipped, an obvious reference to his garrulous dad, Rahul. But what followed was a speech so full of wit and human interest told with such a storyteller's craft that he had the audience riveted.

Departing from the boring "I'd like to thank my COO, my CFO, my MD my CEO," Bajaj, dressed in a company Tee and jeans went on to talk of a lady he'd met twice on a flight, who'd on both occasions spoken about why the young industrialist must relax, concentrate on life's finer matters like his son's piano lessons rather than chase company profits. "She put life back into my life," he said.

After whetting the audience's curiosity, Bajaj delivered the clincher when he turned to chief guest CM Prithviraj Chavan and said, "Each time I met the lady I came away feeling relaxed tension free and happy. So sir when you go home you must thank your wife, because the lady happened to be none other than Mrs Prithviraj Chavan!"

Operatic Exuberance
>> Those who have been gob-smacked by the magical mystery tour ' Yeh IPL hai boss' promos currently running on TV will be happy to know they are the brainchild of the INSEAD trained Roopak Saluja cofounder and MD of the curiously named Bang Bang films, which I am informed is fast becoming the hottest ad-film making enterprise in the country.

Incidentally Roopak is the husband of the lovely actress Tara Sharma and the son-in-law of the playwright Partap Sharma, who gave voice to some of the country's most memorable documentaries and advertising shorts.

Talent runs in the family: I recall a wonderful afternoon at the Sharma's beachfront apartment where inspired by fellow guests Gieve Patel, Dilip Chitre and the irreprisible Anand Thakore who held forth, Roopak broke in to operatic exuberance for the sheer joy of it all. Yeh family hai Boss!

From streetlight to spotlight
>>Most people know her as one of the country's leading bridge players, a talented interior decorator and elegant hostess to some of the world's most celebrated guests. Now Hema Deora, wife of Murli and mother to hip poet/artist Mukul and South Mumbai MP Milind, can add another line to her CV: publisher.

Last week, friends of the family were delighted to receive a handsome tome that the lady had published on her illustrious husband, replete with photographs, anecdotes and messages from friends and admirers.

Called Under the Streetlight-Murli Deora's Journey the book celebrates the transformation of a humble Marwari boy (who studied under the street light outside his home) into one of the country's most powerful politicians and power brokers. In keeping with the subject's man of the people persona, Hema is planning to organise the book launch on a Mumbai street.

"Murli's career and success comes from and belongs to the people of Mumbai � and so rather than at a five star hotel we plan to have a simple launch where Murli will be surrounded by the ordinary people of Mumbai who he loves," Hema said to me. We like!

Empty Seat
>>The untimely demise of the spunky Mona Kapoor, ex-wife of producer Boney Kapoor, saw the leading lights of Bollywood gather to condole. Particularly poignant is the fact that her death occurred on the eve of her son Arjun's debut. His film Ishaqzaade, co-starring Parineeti Chopra and produced by Yash Raj, will be released in May 2012.

Many Bollywood insiders were reminded of an equally tragic incident that occurred decades ago when the darling of Hindi cinema Nargis Dutt missed her son Sunjay Dutt's debut launch in Rocky by days and an empty seat was kept between Sunjay and Sunil at the premiere to mark her absence. We wonder if the Kapoors will follow this tradition in memory of the late Mona.

Separated at the Kumbh Mela
>> For all those who say clothes maketh a man here's proof: on the left is a picture of suited-booted Bollywood star, budding entrepreneur and all round style maven Arjun Rampal. On the right is a picture sent in by Nirman Chowdhury of Kanti-bhai, the man who buys old newspapers and bottles from residents of Warden Rd!

Twins separated at the Kumbh Mela? Mirror images? Perhaps Karan Johar might want to pen a script on the vagaries of fate that places one man in the upper echelons of stardom and success and the other at the city's nether regions in its waste management industry.

Er... and producers eager to sign Ra-One's uber sexy villain who aren't getting dates might just want to consider his doppelganger. Stranger things have been known to happen. (BTW MM invites readers to send in other drop-dead likenesses � all good entries will be duly published and acknowledged)

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