Chandraswami passed away yesterday following multiple-organ failure at Delhi hospital. He was closely linked to former prime ministers P V Narasimha Rao and Chandra Shekhar. Known as big time power broker, he could decide cabinet positions, postings for bureaucrats and clinch business deals, according to Indian Express report. He may have lived in near anonymity for the last two decades. But the 1980s and most of the 90s, Chandraswami used to be the fulcrum of power politics thanks to his link to two prime ministers. He also used to flaunt his access to the Gandhi family- Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.
He was born to a moneylender at Behror in Rajasthan. There is hardly any information available regarding his early life. The family had moved to Hyderabad and Chandraswami claimed later that he spent his youth meditating in the jungles of Bihar and acquired tantric powers.
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Chandraswami was an astrologer. According to IE report, he used his ‘tantric’ powers to advise former British Prime Minister late Margaret Thatcher, to help realise her ambitions. He was also said to have been a friend to the sultans of Brunei and Bahrain, international arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, British businessman Roland ‘Tiny’ Rowland, underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and actor Elizabeth Taylor.
However, life was not so rosy for Chandraswami. Chandraswami, whose real name was Nemi Chand Jain, faced a bevy of criminal cases — ranging from FERA violations, to blackmail and cheating, to shady arms deals. In 1996, he was arrested on charges of defrauding Lakhubhai Pathak, a London-based Indian-origin businessman, of $100,000. Pathak, popularly known as “pickle king”, claimed the money he had given to Chandraswami was meant for Rao. The former prime minister was later acquitted in the case.
As reports emerged of his dubious links to Khashoggi in the Iran-Contra arms-running scandal, Chandraswami was also charged with violation of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA), the IE report says.
In 1997, Congress party in its submissions before the Jain Commission in 1997 accused Chandraswami of having financed the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi after playing a key role in the conspiracy jointly hatched by various terrorist outfits in London and executed by the LTTE.