I came in contact with Sanjay Gandhi through an acquaintance, Tripathi. I would carry out small errands such as buying tickets for the Gandhi family, whereby I would meet Sanjay just enough number of times for him to remember my name and face. Those days it was not easy to meet the Gandhi family as they were not in power. In the meantime, my business associate, Chanana, told me about the USSR barter trade where the country bought commodities from India, and it was through political patronage. We designed a deal — I would get the export order, he would put in the working capital, and we would divide the money 50:50. I decided to enlist the help of a relative, who had a fairly tarnished image — Rajinder Mittal — to meet Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari. He was known to wield great influence then and I had a straight conversation with him. After several long dicussions, he arranged a meeting with Rajiv Gandhi.
I went to Bungalow 2, Motilal Nehru Marg and met Rajiv’s man Friday, Vijay Dhar. After a 10-minute chat, I was in business. Swamiji and Tripathi were to be given a cut. After we bagged the contract, the Soviet official asked me to meet Tulsi Tanna, the monopoly exporter in the trade. Under the guise of helping me, he made an offer that included me splitting the profit by opting out of the trade. Although it looked like easy money, I declined. In a hilarious turn of events, after the first consignment reached Moscow, Tanna accused us of selling inferior quality rice instead of basmati. I flew down to the capital city and asked the Soviet officials for samples of Tanna’s stock that was more white but was original parimal rice, inferior than basmati. I accepted my mistake and agreed to change future sto