Radia is calling up N.K. Singh to seek his views on the new cabinet. For Singh, it’s more of a jumbo cabinet, akin to Lord Shiva’s baraat that included many species of fauna. Kamal Nath’s alleged penchant for corruption gets reinforced in this conversation in which Singh says that divesting him of the commerce minister’s portfolio was an indication that he had crossed the line.
Niira Radia: Hi! Hi! I am sorry we’ve not been able to connect. How are you?
N.K. Singh: Hi, how are you?
NR: I am very well.
NK: Lot of fun and games...no?
NR: Isn’t it, yes...yes...isn’t it? What does it look like? I mean, what do you think of the new cabinet?
NK: Ok. It’s a bit of a what in Hindi...I can’t explain to you, there is a particular proverb in Hindi...which says: Shivji ki baraat...
NR: Ha, ha...achchha.
NK: He, he...means the baraat of Shivji consisted of many varieties and many species...from scorpions, serpents to elephants to tame deer and....
It has a bit of a jumbo staff, which will have to be seen. By and large, conventional wisdom has prevailed in giving the key departments to the old and trusted. Some surprise elements...hmm...a spectacular jump for Anand Sharma.
NR: Yeah...what do you make of that?
NK: I am still puzzled. Because I knew he was close to 10, Janpath. But in the meantime, he had done a lot to cultivate the PM...uh...personally...you know...PMO...hanging around (Kutty) Nair’s (principal secretary in the PMO) room...PM’s. And in the I&B, when he was given...you know...he was in touch with PMO (not clear) which he believes has paid off, in terms of a strategy.
So this is...but I still don’t think I have been able to say the last word on this...okay?
NK: So, this is one. The other thing is a spectacular decline of Kamal Nath...
NK: That, I explain, and by the way, to make matters worse for him, even shipping has been taken away from him.
NR: Yeah...Wasan has got that.
NK: Wasan’s got that...which means he’s just literally left...he’s on the roads.
NR: Literally, on the roads...(laughs)
NK: Literally on the road... So...well, you can always hide it by saying that highways are, after all, one black point of that government and they want to make up with it, but I think there’s much more than meets the eye and I think that, you know, a lot of the stuff which you and I know is going on...somehow got noticed and reported...some ways it is supposed to also give a signal that perhaps it had been overdone, I mean...whatever...and the fact that also Baalu was kept out, of the roads.
NR: Well, that was more of Karunanidhi’s decision because he’s under pressure from his family.
NK: Yeah, but on the other hand, he...even if he had...had come, he would not have gone back to the same charge of old.
NR: Of course not, of course not.
NK: So I think in Kamal Nath’s case, it’s a clear indication that look, enough is enough, I don’t think right now he needs another atm. He has one going for many years and...there’s enough for him...which is...so that’s the other thing....
Jyotiraditya has made it good. Getting MoS...he didn’t make it to an independent charge...but he has got a pretty important thing in commerce and industry, with a young man, Anand Sharma, to work with.
So, good for Jyotir, I think. It is an opportunity to do a lot because it is a big charge...you know...I have been in that ministry...it is a big charge, Niira. wto will gather momentum...but though not this year. wto does not only depend on us...it depends on...