THE genie of the Laxmi Vilas Palace hotel, Udaipur, has come out in the open. Arun Shourie and Pradip Baijal, former Secretary, Disinvestment, have figured prominently in this controversy. Laxmi Vilas Palace is an Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) property purchased by hotelier Lalit Suri a decade ago. It was public knowledge that it was sold for a pittance. It is also an open secret at whose instance the deal was solemnised. The timing of the controversy is the subject of curiosity. Shourie is a well-known mentor, guide and philosopher of Narendra Modi. Shourie was offered a Cabinet post but he reportedly declined, citing personal reasons. Shourie was at the helm of affairs much before the election announced. He was strategising, preparing documents, making plans and advising Modi from time to time. Sources disclose that Arun Jaitley, who is holding two ministries, has to demit either Finance or Defence sooner or later. No minister is able to continuously run two of the country’s crucial ministries. Shourie appeared to be the obvious choice but the Laxmi Vilas Palace controversy has marred his chances of joining the Cabinet and helping Modi, who is in dire need of competent ministers. Palace intrigues and the apparatus used in war are clearly the same everywhere.