Monday, Nov 28, 2022

#16 Ranjan Bhattacharya: May 22, 2009 16:55:35

'Your friend Sunil Mittal... He’s lobbying against Raja... Then I made Barkha call up Congress, and get a statement from Congress'

Ranjan Bhattacharya: (Coughs) Hi!

Niira Radia: You’re not well?

Ranjan Bhattacharya: I have a cough.

Niira Radia: Oh, dear me.

Ranjan Bhattacharya: (Coughs)

Niira Radia: Your friend Sunil Mittal... 

Ranjan Bhattacharya: Hmmm...

Niira Radia: He’s lobbying against Raja.

Ranjan Bhattacharya: He’s lobbying against Raja?!

Niira Radia: And he’s pushing Maran.

Ranjan Bhattacharya: Sunil to just arrived last night.

Niira Radia: Nahii, he was working in the background.

Ranjan Bhattacharya: Achha, because he called me yesterday… day before… he actually was in London, he just met my daughter, he asked me are you also there? I said, don’t be silly yaar. Achcha. So he’s lobbying against Raja for Maran?

Niira Radia: He’s making a mistake because woh Cabinet mein Telecom to siraf Raja ke paas jayega. [In this Cabinet, Telecom is only going to go to Raja]

Ranjan Bhattacharya: But tell me – ah, how is the PM reacting? Because till this morning…

Niira Radia: PM has said nothing on this – it's just Navika Kumar who has gone overboard on the say-so of Virat Bhatia, vis a vis Maran and Sunil Mittal (inaudible).

Ranjan Bhattacharya: No no, say it again, sorry?

Niira Radia: You see Navika in Times Now is working on the DL for Virat Bhatia.

Ranjan Bhattacharya: Who is Virat Bhatia?

Niira Radia: Viraj Bhatia is an AT&T guy, and also he used to be the pointman for Maran in Delhi.

Ranjan Bhattacharya: Oh that tall boy?

Niira Radia: Tall boy.

Ranjan Bhattacharya: Ah.

Niira Radia: So he’s always been Maran’s PR machinery when Maran was candidate, (inaudible)

Ranjan Bhattacharya: I see, no but…

Niira Radia: He introduced him to all his relationships to the Telecom journalists.

Ranjan Bhattacharya: But tell me… He’s the... not the old man… the final authority on…?

Niira Radia: He is, but the Old Man’s got stuck. I'll tell you what he did. He’s sent five names to Congress on Monday, which was Railways for Maran, Power for Baalu, Telecom for Raja, Surface for Azhagiri…

Ranjan Bhattacharya: For what? Who?

Niira Radia: Surface for Azhagiri, his son…

Ranjan Bhattacharya: Ah, Azhagiri…

Niira Radia: And Health for Kanni, and he’d indicated that Kanni can be Health or Environment and Forests in the independent capacity.

Ranjan Bhattacharya: MoS, huh?

Niira Radia: MoS. He knew that Railways would never get accepted and he knew that Power would not get accepted.

Ranjan Bhattacharya: Okay.

Niira Radia: He’d also given the indication that he was under pressure from his family.

Ranjan Bhattacharya: (chuckles)

Niira Radia: So one is committing suicide in one house, another is committing suicide in another house. And I would have thought that the Congress would have been a bit more smarter, by not pushing Maran’s case all by themselves.

Ranjan Bhattacharya: Right.

Niira Radia: So all this media blitz that they didn’t do anything about from day one, they made this case for Raja and Baalu.

Ranjan Bhattacharya: Hm…

Niira Radia: But as far Karunanidhi was concerned he cannot say no to Raja, because Raja is a Dalit. 

Ranjan Bhattacharya: Yeah, yeah

Niira Radia: He needs to bring him into the Cabinet.

Ranjan Bhattacharya: No, and plus everyone else will say saale khaalii apne parivar ko de diya aur kisii kaa kuchh kiyaa nahii… [Everyone will say you took your share, gave it to your family and as for everyone else…]

Niira Radia: Hanh, and Raja uskaa aadmi hain. [Yes, and Raja is his man] All the sons like him, everybody likes him, amenable hain to the party and most trusted aadmii hai. Usko kaun nikalenge? [Who will remove him?]

Ranjan Bhattacharya: Right.

Niira Radia: Woh jyo bhi karle, Sunil Mittal jo bhii kar le, usko koi nahi nikalenge. [Let him do anything. Nobody will remove him.] To which Karunanidhi told Ghulam Nabi Azad, Raja will be my Telecom IT Minister, Prime Minister said I have no problem with that.

Ranjan Bhattacharya: Mmhmm.

Niira Radia: When all the blitz was going on, yesterday I spoke to Karunanidhi, I said why are you doing this?

Ranjan Bhattacharya: Mmm.

Niira Radia: Sunil ka naam tho aa hi gaya. [Sunil’s name came up]

Ranjan Bhattacharya: Mmhmm.

Niira Radia: A lot of people don’t want him, and all that, this that and the other. Then I made Barkha call up Congress, and get a statement from Congress whether the Prime Minister had actually said he doesn’t want Baalu and...

Ranjan Bhattacharya: Yeah, yeah.

Niira Radia: She carried that he had never said it.

Ranjan Bhattacharya: Yes, I read that.

Niira Radia: Now the Congress has issued another statement saying that they’re not talking, they never really talked about people.

Ranjan Bhattacharya: Mm mm.

Niira Radia: The problem is that Azhagiri is a pretty large, big leader from the South.

Ranjan Bhattacharya: Yeah.

Niira Radia: You know he himself carries a lot of weight in the party.

Ranjan Bhattacharya: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Niira Radia: (inaudible) Baalu aur Raja ko keh raha thaa that if Baalu and Raja get Cabinet, I have no problem getting MoS.

Ranjan Bhattacharya: Who – this is Azhagiri?

Niira Radia: Azhagiri. And Kanni and I can both be MoS. I have no problem, provided it is not Maran.

Ranjan Bhattacharya: It is not Maran. Right.

Niira Radia: If Maran becomes Cabinet, then I must get Cabinet, that is why you got four.

Ranjan Bhattacharya: Mm, mm.

Niira Radia: And the problem is that. (pause) But Congress is stupid – they should have just given a message very very clearly.... it’s Karunanidhi’s fault. That –

Ranjan Bhattacharya: Niira, just hang on, you’re breaking up, I’m going through this area, one minute. (pause) Hanh, can you hear me?

Niira Radia: Ha, I can hear you.

Ranjan Bhattacharya: Ruko, TuuT rahaa hai... ek minute ruko, ek minute ruko.

(Recording ends)

Transcribed by Raghu and checked by OL