Thursday 28 July 2016
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‘What Do You Want Me To Tell Them (The Congress)? Tell Me. I’ll talk To Them.’

Barkha Dutt, Group editor, English news, NDTV

Hear it as they spoke it: The Ratan Tata, Barkha Dutt & Other Tapes

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Niira Radia: Hi, did I wake you up?

Barkha Dutt: Hi Niira. I have been up most of the night. The stalemate continues.

NR: They need to talk to him directly. That’s the only way. And that is the problem.

BD: Apparently now the message from the other side is why did Baalu go public? They claim that at this point they had offered them this formula and these guys said no. These guys never told them they would withdraw outside support. Apparently, the PM is pissed off that Baalu went public.

NR: That’s Baalu’s doing na?

BD: Yeah. Baalu’s doing. He’s not being instructed by Karunanidhi to do that.

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NR: He was told to tell the Congress and come away. But the media was outside.

BD: Oh god! So, now what should I tell them? Tell me.

NR: I had a long chat with the wife and the daughter. The problem is they need to talk to Karunanidhi directly. The problem is they cannot talk in front of Maran, Baalu. They need to talk to Karunanidhi directly. There are enough Congress leaders from Tamil Nadu who can do that. The biggest problem is the followers of Azhagiri are saying you cannot give Maran a cabinet post and keep Azhagiri in the minister of state status.

BD: Will Karuna drop Baalu?

NR: Look, if you tell him Baalu is the only problem, I’d imagine he will drop him.

BD: But you see the problem is also a choice of portfolios, na?

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NR: They haven’t said anything. Portfolios haven’t yet been discussed.

BD: Congress claims, for whatever it is worth, that DMK wanted surface transport, power, IT, telecom, railways and health. Abhi Congress has offered IT, telecom, chemicals and fertilisers and labour. This is where it stands. Will DMK accept?

NR: Maybe not. They will have to drop Maran if they have to accept that. Maran is pushing coal and mines.

BD: Who is pushing?

NR: Now Maran says you give me coal and mines. My honest advice is you tell them, they need to tell him directly that we are happy because Kanimozhi has no issue even being an independent. But Azhagiri is now telling her you cannot accept independent charge if Maran remains a cabinet minister. Congress is sending messages through the media and through various sources that Maran is going around telling everyone that he is the only acceptable person. That’s not correct, na?

BD: I know. We have taken that off.

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NR: Congress needs to tell Karunanidhi that we have not said anything about Maran.

BD: Okay, Let me talk to them again.

NR: The choice of candidate, we leave to you. We leave the choice of candidates to you.  We have some reservations about Baalu. Let them tell that we are not telling anything about Maran.

Hear it as they spoke it: The Ratan Tata, Barkha Dutt & Other Tapes

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