Nachiketa: controversial figure, finger in many pies

Nachiketa Kapur, in the eye of WikiLeaks storm in India, is a controversial figure with powerful connections in the Congress set-up, party insiders say.

New Delhi: Nachiketa Kapur, in the eye of WikiLeaks storm in India, is a controversial figure with powerful connections in the Congress set-up, party insiders say.

"He had been moving in the inner corridors of the party and the government. Whether he was trying to use the party, only time will tell," a party leader, who spoke only on condition of anonymity.

US diplomatic cables leaked on WikiLeaks and published by The Hindu newspaper purportedly say that payoffs had been made to MPs to ensure majority for the Congress-led government in the confidence vote over the India-US nuclear deal 2008.

The cables quoted Kapur as saying that a fund of Rs.50 crore has been formed to bribe MPs.

"I do not know anything. I have not witnessed anything," a grim Kapur told reporters Thursday.

But controversies have followed Kapur.

In 2008, Kapur was rejected to be "considered for any post of sensitive nature" by the Cabinet Committee on Appointments (CCA) reportedly on complaints by the then union minister Renuka Chowdhary.

Kapur has said that he had not got any official information on the matter so far.

Still, he built up a profile of a multi-faceted personality - as a diplomatic observer, political activist, social worker and media personality.

Delhi-based Kapur, in his early forties, emerged in the party as a youth leader in the city. Reports and photographs of Kapur, along with wife Varuna, attending the social functions in the capital are widely publicised on the internet.

One such report, headlined "Nachiketa Kapur attends wedding" goes on to say, "The show stealer was Rahul Gandhi."

Kapur has been described in the US cables as a political aide to Congress leader Satish Sharma.

Kapur denied that he had worked with Sharma. "I am in the same party... but I have not worked with him."

But Congress leaders admit that Kapur has influential "godfathers".

Even after being removed from the post of an aide in the office of the then minister of state for child development Chowdhary in 2008, Kapur landed up in the post of deputy director general (protocol and media relations) for the Commonwealth Games.

While media reports had quoted Kapur as saying that he was "victimised" by Chowdhary, informed sources said that there were several complaints against him including of human trafficking.

Among the recent highlights of Kapur`s career was his visit to the US as an international diplomatic observer during the 2008 presidential polls.

His several commentaries on the electioneering and the opinion of Indian Americans were right on the mark, political observers recall.

Some observers link Kapur`s selection as an observer to the US polls to his proximity to the American diplomats and his alleged "role in canvassing support for the India-US nuclear deal".

Another report on the internet - on the occasion of the presentation of an award to Kapur by an NGO - describes Kapur as a "prominent social activist, working for the welfare of the poor and downtrodden people of Delhi".

"He (Kapur) held several important positions in government and other places. He is a member of the Foreign Correspondents Club of India," the report says.


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