11/18/2010

“Tell me what should I tell them?” | OPE…

T H U R SD AY , 18 N O VEM BER 2010

Photo feature: Her walk home after daylight fades in a busy metropolis

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“Tell me what should I tell them?”
“Oh God. So now what? What should I tell them? Tell me what should I tell them?” —BARKHA DUTT ALERT: Conv ersation begins on som e au dios after a few seconds of silence; all au dio files em bedded at the beginning of cor responding transcr ipts

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Barkha Dutt (/c ategory /tag s /ba rk ha -d utt) | Niira Radia

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T H E N ET W O R K

A s talks between the DMK and Congress (‘them’) broke dow n over joining the Government in May 2009, Radia w as actively involved in opening channels betw een the two parties through, among others, television journalist Barkha Dutt
“ OH GOD. SO NOW WHAT ? WHAT SHOUL D I T EL L T HEM ? T EL L M E WHAT SHOUL D I T EL L T HEM ? ” —BARKHA DUT T
D ATE 2 2 MAY 2 0 0 9 TI ME 0 9 : 4 8 : 5 1

RADIA: Hi, did I wake y ou up? BA RKHA : No, no, no. I’v e been up, y a, most of the night. The stalemate continues, y aa. RADIA: Y eah. Listen, the thing is that they need to talk to him directly . That is what the problem is. BA RKHA : Haan so, apparently PM’s really pissed off that they went public. RADIA: But that’s Baalu’s doing, naa… he was not instructed by Karunanidhi to do that. BA RKHA : Oh, he wasn’t? RADIA: This is not. He was told to come away and tell Congress that. BA RKHA : And he went public

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“Tell me what should I tell them?” | OPE…

RADIA: Well, the media… media, the media was standing outside. BA RKHA : Oh God. So now what? What should I tell them? Tell me what should I tell them? RADIA: I’ll tell y ou what it is---the problem and I hav e had a long chat with both his wife and with the daughter right … BA RKHA : Haan, haan. RADIA: The problem is if the Congress has a problem with Baalu, if they hav e no problem with any one. They need and go talk to Karunanidhi. They hav e v ery good relationship with Karunanidhi directly . BA RKHA : Correct, haan. RADIA: Because y ou see, in front of Baalu, in front of Maran, they can’t talk. BA RKHA : Y eah RADIA: So they hav e to tell him directly , there [are] enough Congress leaders in Tamil Nadu. They need to go in and tell him ex actly ---the biggest problem is that the following of Alagiri is say ing that y ou cannot giv e [inaudible] a cabinet [inaudible] and keep Alagiri in the MoS state. BA RKHA : That’s right. But will Karuna drop Baalu? RADIA: He… look, if y ou tell him that Baalu is the only problem. I would imagine, he will drop him. BA RKHA : But y ou see the problem right now is also ov er the choice of portfolios, naa… RADIA: No. They ’v e not said any thing. The portfolios hav e not ev en got discussed. BA RKHA : Congress claims, for whatev er it’s worth, that the DMK wanted surface transport, power, IT, telecom, railway s and health. … RADIA: Y ou see, y ou see my honest adv ice… BA RKHA : Y eah. RADIA: ..is that y ou tell them that they need to tell him directly that we are happy because Kani’s [Kanimozhi, DMK Chief Karunanidhi’s daughter] got no issue being about independent. But A lagiri is now telling her that y ou cannot take an independent charge if Maran remains cabinet minister. BA RKHA : I see. RADIA: A nd Congress is sending messages through media and through v arious sources, say ing that. And Maran is telling ev ery one that he is the only acceptable person. BA RKHA : Person, y eah, y eah, y eah. That I know. RADIA: But that’s not correct, naa? BA RKHA : No, I know. We’v e taken that off. We’v e taken that off. … BA RKHA : Also, but, but the Congress needs to tell Karunanidhi that we hav e not said any thing about Maran. BA RKHA : Okay . Let me talk to them again. RADIA: Y eah? The choice of candidate we will leav e to y ou. We hav e some reserv ation about Baalu. And let them tell the reserv ation. And we hav e not said any thing about Maran. We are not talking +++ In another telecon, Barkha Dutt offers Niira Radia the assurance that she is on the job as a reliable go-between

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“ T HAT ’S NOT A PROBL EM , I ’L L T AL K T O AZ AD. I’L L T AL K T O AZ AD RI GHT AFT ER I GET OUT OF RCR” —BARKHA DUT T
D ATE 2 2 MAY 2 0 0 9 TI ME 1 0 : 4 7 : 3 3

BA RKHA : Haan, Niira? RADIA: Barkha, what I’m told is that the Congress y esterday , apparently , God knows who they are talking to in the DMK. BA RKHA : Haan, well must be Maran… RADIA: Relay ed---no, they relay ed that the infrastructure portfolio should not be giv en to Maran or Baalu. BA RKHA : No, that’s because they want to keep it for themselv es. RADIA: No, they wanted to; they didn’t want any infrastructure, that’s what Prime Minister said, so he said that’s why they giv e him labour, fertiliser, chemical---and telecom, IT, they said for Raja. So what has happened is, is that message not relay ed to Karunanidhi? BA RKHA : Oh I see! RADIA: They might hav e told some minion down the line or told Maran who is not relay ing the truth. BA RKHA : I think they hav e told Maran. RADIA: Y eah, now what they need to do is, they need to speak to Kani so she can set up the discussion with her father, because ev en the Prime Minister’s discussion was … she was the one who’s translating, and it was a v ery brief discussion for two minutes. BA RKHA : Okay . RADIA: That we’ll try and work it out, and the let’s not y ou know take it a hasty easy decision. That’s the ty pe of conv ersation that happened. BA RKHA : No, I’ll set it up as soon as they get out of RCR. RADIA: What she say ing is that, y ou know, that someone senior like Ghulam [Nabi A zad, senior Congress leader]---because he is the one who is authorised to speak. …. BA RKHA : Y eah, y eah, y eah. RADIA: Right? Was to speak to her then she can tell her father that I hav e got this message from the Congress. BA RKHA : Theek hai, not a problem. That’s not a problem, I’ll talk to A zad---I’ll talk to A zad right after I get out of RCR [Race Course Road, presumably , the PM’s residence]. RADIA: Y eah, and then she said when father lands, I can speak to him. BA RKHA : Okay . +++ The tw o conversationalists touch base again
“ I’V E HAD A L ONG CHAT , I HAD A L ONG CHAT , AND T HEY PROM ISED M E T HAT AZ AD WIL L SPEAK T O HER” —BARKHA DUT T
D ATE 2 2 MAY 2 0 0 9 TI ME 1 5 : 3 1 : 2 9

RADIA: They will speak to her? BA RKHA : Y eah. RADIA: Who? Ghulam? BA RKHA : Ghulam. Y eah. RADIA: Y ou know, the problem is she’s catching a flight at fiv e haan, going back. Day anidhi Maran is attending the swearing in when only Raja has been authorised to attend, so he’s gone and told his leader that A hmed Patel has told me especially to attend the swearing in. BA RKHA : Ahmed say s this is rubbish …

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“Tell me what should I tell them?” | OPE…

RADIA: But I am telling y ou but this. Karunanidhi’s v ery confused. BA RKHA : No, but why can’t Kani stay also and attend it? RADIA: She doesn’t want to attend no because her father told her to come back. She has to follow what she’s father say s, no. Call Ghulam then. BA RKHA : Let me call him. RADIA: She’s leav ing at fiv e. She’s catching a flight at fiv e. +++ Niira Radia and Barkha Dutt discuss cabinet composition possibilities---with Raja’s inclusion or non-inclusion the big question
“ I AM T EL L I NG YOU, NAHIN HAI. T RUST M E. NAHIN HAI” —NIIRA RADI A
D ATE 2 2 MAY 2 0 0 9 TI ME TI ME 1 8 : 0 9 : 0 6

BA RKHA : No, y ou see Congress’s condition is Baalu should not get surface transport. Not Baalu, DMK should not get surface transport, bey ond indiv iduals right? RADIA: Correct, correct, and they are not indiv iduals. Let me tell y ou one thing’s for sure, 3 plus 4 was y esterday ; because of Maran, they wanted to make it 4 plus 3. BA RKHA : Okay ! RADIA: So, now it is back to 3 plus 4 that was already worked on the table? BA RKHA : No, so why does this formula not sound right then? RADIA: Because of A lagiri naa, if y ou make A lagiri… not cabinet. No, he’s not got cabinet. BA RKHA : Oh, Alagiri got what, according to these things? RADIA: Y ou see, according to her, he’s got Health, but he can’t be cabinet. Either Maran is not cabinet, either Raja is not cabinet or Baalu’s not. BA RKHA : Alagiri’s got Health and that’s a big compromise by Congress because they said we won’t giv e them Health. So that’s their face sav er. No, but Alagiri, Health can be cabinet? RADIA: A greed, but then Raja is MoS. BA RKHA : Raja is MoS! RADIA: Then is Baalu MoS? BA RKHA : Nahin ho sakta. Nahin, nahin, nahin, if Baalu gets the Heav y Industries and A lagiri is in the Fertiliser, according to …. Baalu gets Fertilizer; A lagiri gets this thing, Health. RADIA: Maran gets Telecom and IT. BA RKHA : Maran gets Telecom and IT. Raja gets demoted. RADIA: Who gets…? BA RKHA : Raja. Nahin hoga? RADIA: I am telling y ou nahin hai (laughing). Trust me, nahin hai. BA RKHA : Achcha, theek hai. +++ In yet another telecon, Barkha Dutt explains her situation to Niira Radia
“ EV ERYBODY I KNOW IN T HE CONGRESS WAS AT T HE SWEARING- I N, SO I HAV EN’T BEEN ABL E T O SPEAK WIT H T HE T OP GUYS, AND NOW I JUST FINI SHED AND I AM GOING T O M AKE M Y SET OF CAL L S” BARKHA DUT T
D ATE 2 2 MAY 2 0 0 9 TI ME 1 9 : 2 3 : 5 7

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“Tell me what should I tell them?” | OPE…

BA RKHA : Y ou see, what happened was ev ery body I know in the Congress was at the swearing in, so I hav en’t been able to speak with the top guy s, and now I just finished and I am going to make my set of calls. RADIA: Kani just landed in Chennai. Just now. I just spoke… BA RKHA : Where is Day a? Where is Maran? RADIA: Day a didn’t turn up for the swearing in because he was called back, because he went and told Karunanidhi that I hav e been asked by A hmed Patel to come for the swearing in. But the leader said then y ou join the Congress. BA RKHA : (laughs) So now? RADIA: So Raja was the only one who’s authorised to attend which he’s done and Raja’s catching the 8:40 flight... BA RKHA : Okay

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A L S O I N N A TION

“PM is very soft-spoken, and dad can’t hear clearly”
(/article/nation/pm-is-v ery -soft-spoken-and-dad-can-t-hear-clearly )
The ‘he’ appears to be Dayanidhi Maran, who, along with TR Baalu, seems to be having trouble finding infrastructure-related portfolios in UPA II. Here, Niira Radia conveys that information to Kanimozhi “ Pr im e Min ist er is a lso, y ou k n ow , v er y soft -spok en , a n d da d c a n ’t h ea r v er y clea r ly a lso.” —KA NIMOZHI “ Mm -h m m ” —RA DIA DA T E 2 2 Ma y 2 0 0 9 T IME 1 0 :4 5 :0 6
20 N OV 2010 | BY

Open (/c ategory /a uthor/open)

“Tell Sunil Mittal, you have to work with Raja”
(/article/nation/tell-sunil-mittal-y ou-hav e-to-work-with-raja)
“ H m m …tell Su n il Mit ta l, y ou h a v e t o w or k a lon g w it h Ra ja for a n ot h er fiv e y ea r s” —A RA JA
20 N OV 2010 | BY

Open (/c ategory /a uthor/open)

“I met Raja today. He is a happy man” (/article/nation/i-metraja-today -he-is-a-happy -man)
Pow er t h r ou g h pr ox im it y
20 N OV 2010 | BY

Open (/c ategory /a uthor/open)

S E E A LL

( / AR C H I V E/ 14 6 / 7 20 2)

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