Niira Radia and media: Barkha Dutt
Transcripts of Niira Radia's conversation with Barkha Dutt, group editor of NDTV
Niira Radia: Hi, did I wake you up?
Barkha Dutt: No, no, no. I’ve been up, yaa, most of the night. The stalemate continues, yaa.
Niira Radia: Yeah. Listen, the thing is that they need to talk to him directly. That is what the problem is.
Barkha Dutt: Haan so, apparently PM’s really pissed off that they went public.
Niira Radia: But that’s Baalu’s doing, naa… he was not instructed by Karunanidhi to do that.
Barkha Dutt: Oh, he wasn’t?
Niira Radia: This is not. He was told to come away and tell Congress that.
Barkha Dutt: And he went public
Niira Radia: Well, the media… media, the media was standing outside.
Barkha Dutt: Oh God. So now what? What should I tell them? Tell me what should I tell them?
Niira Radia: I’ll tell you what it is—the problem and I have had a long chat with both his wife and with the daughter right…
Barkha Dutt: Haan, haan.
Niira Radia: The problem is if the Congress has a problem with Baalu, if they have no problem with anyone. They need and go talk to Karunanidhi. They have very good relationship with Karunanidhi directly.
Barkha Dutt: Correct, haan.
Niira Radia: Because you see, in front of Baalu, in front of Maran, they can’t talk.
Barkha Dutt: Yeah
Niira Radia: So they have to tell him directly, there [are] enough Congress leaders in Tamil Nadu. They need to go in and tell him exactly—the biggest problem is that the following of Alagiri is saying that you cannot give [inaudible] a cabinet [inaudible] and keep Alagiri in the MoS state.
Barkha Dutt: That’s right. But will Karuna drop Baalu?
Niira Radia: He… look, if you tell him that Baalu is the only problem. I would imagine, he will drop him.
Barkha Dutt: But you see the problem right now is also over the choice of portfolios, naa…
Niira Radia: No. They’ve not said anything. The portfolios have not even got discussed.
Barkha Dutt: Congress claims, for whatever it’s worth, that the DMK wanted surface transport, power, IT, telecom, railways and health.…
Niira Radia: You see, you see my honest advice…
Barkha Dutt: Yeah.
Niira Radia: ..is that you 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 Alagiri is now telling her that you cannot take an independent charge if Maran remains cabinet minister.
Barkha Dutt: I see.
Niira Radia: And Congress is sending messages through media and through various sources, saying that. And Maran is telling everyone that he is the only acceptable person.
Barkha Dutt: Person, yeah, yeah, yeah. That I know.
Niira Radia: But that’s not correct, naa?
Barkha Dutt: No, I know. We’ve taken that off. We’ve taken that off.…
Barkha Dutt: Also, but, but the Congress needs to tell Karunanidhi that we have not said anything about Maran.
Barkha Dutt: Okay. Let me talk to them again.
Niira Radia: Yeah? The choice of candidate we will leave to you. We have some reservation about Baalu. And let them tell the reservation. And we have not said anything about Maran. We are not talking
Barkha Dutt: Hi Niiraa
Niira Radia: Barkha, hi. spoke to her again You see the thing is she agrees that it was an ill-thought out thing, and that they shouldn't ave sent the list the way they did... but the point was that the discussion never got around to the portfolios ever
Barkha Dutt: Oh, really?
Niira Radia: The question of portfolios never came up. Their feeback was coming from Maran to them...
Tape: Barkha Dutt-02-188819-0-01-20090522-104733
Barkha Dutt: Haan, Niira?
Niira Radia: Barkha, what I’m told is that the Congress yesterday, apparently, God knows who they are talking to in the DMK.
Barkha Dutt: Haan, well must be Maran…
Niira Radia: Relayed—no, they relayed that the infrastructure portfolio should not be given to Maran or Baalu.
Barkha Dutt: No, that’s because they want to keep it for themselves.
Niira Radia: No, they wanted to; they didn’t want any infrastructure, that’s what Prime Minister said, so he said that’s why they give him labour, fertiliser, chemical—and telecom, IT, they said for Raja. So what has happened is, is that message not relayed to Karunanidhi?
Barkha Dutt: Oh I see!
Niira Radia: They might have told some minion down the line or told Maran who is not relaying the truth.
Barkha Dutt: I think they have told Maran.
Niira Radia: Yeah, now what they need to do is, they need to speak to Kani so she can set up the discussion with her father, because even the Prime Minister’s discussion was … she was the one who’s translating, and it was a very brief discussion for two minutes.
Barkha Dutt: Okay.
Niira Radia: That we’ll try and work it out, and the let’s not you know take it a hasty easy decision. That’s the type of conversation that happened.
Barkha Dutt: No, I’ll set it up as soon as they get out of RCR.
Niira Radia: What she saying is that, you know, that someone senior like Ghulam [Nabi Azad, senior Congress leader]—because he is the one who is authorised to speak. ….
Barkha Dutt: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Niira Radia: Right? Was to speak to her then she can tell her father that I have got this message from the Congress.
Barkha Dutt: Theek hai, not a problem. That’s not a problem, I’ll talk to Azad—I’ll talk to Azad right after I get out of RCR [Race Course Road, presumably, the PM’s residence].
Niira Radia: Yeah, and then she said when father lands, I can speak to him.
Barkha Dutt: Okay.
Niira Radia: They will speak to her?
Barkha Dutt: Yeah.
Niira Radia: Who? Ghulam?
Barkha Dutt: Ghulam. Yeah.
Niira Radia: You know, the problem is she’s catching a flight at five haan, going back. Dayanidhi Maran is attending the swearing in when only Raja has been authorised to attend, so he’s gone and told his leader that Ahmed Patel has told me especially to attend the swearing in.
Barkha Dutt: Ahmed says this is rubbish …
Niira Radia: But I am telling you but this. Karunanidhi’s very confused.
Barkha Dutt: No, but why can’t Kani stay also and attend it?
Niira Radia: She doesn’t want to attend no because her father told her to come back. She has to follow what she’s father says, no. Call Ghulam then.
Barkha Dutt: Let me call him.
Niira Radia: She’s leaving at five. She’s catching a flight at five.
Barkha Dutt: No, you see Congress’s condition is Baalu should not get surface transport. Not Baalu, DMK should not get surface transport, beyond individuals right?
Niira Radia: Correct, correct, and they are not individuals. Let me tell you one thing’s for sure, 3 plus 4 was yesterday; because of Maran, they wanted to make it 4 plus 3.
Barkha Dutt: Okay!
Niira Radia: So, now it is back to 3 plus 4 that was already worked on the table?
Barkha Dutt: No, so why does this formula not sound right then?
Niira Radia: Because of Alagiri naa, if you make Alagiri… not cabinet. No, he’s not got cabinet.
Barkha Dutt: Oh, Alagiri got what, according to these things?
Niira Radia: You 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.
Barkha Dutt: Alagiri’s got Health and that’s a big compromise by Congress because they said we won’t give them Health. So that’s their face saver. No, but Alagiri, Health can be cabinet?
Niira Radia: Agreed, but then Raja is MoS.
Barkha Dutt: Raja is MoS!
Niira Radia: Then is Baalu MoS?
Barkha Dutt: Nahin ho sakta. Nahin, nahin, nahin, if Baalu gets the Heavy Industries and Alagiri is in the Fertiliser, according to …. Baalu gets Fertilizer; Alagiri gets this thing, Health.
Niira Radia: Maran gets Telecom and IT.
Barkha Dutt: Maran gets Telecom and IT. Raja gets demoted.
Niira Radia: Who gets…?
Barkha Dutt: Raja. Nahiin hogaa?
Niira Radia: I am telling you nahin hai (laughing). Trust me, nahiin hai.
Barkha Dutt: Achcha, Thiik hai.
Barkha Dutt: You see, what happened was everybody I know in the Congress was at the swearing in, so I haven’t been able to speak with the top guys, and now I just finished and I am going to make my set of calls.
Niira Radia: Kani just landed in Chennai. Just now. I just spoke…
Barkha Dutt: Where is Daya? Where is Maran?
Niira Radia: Daya didn’t turn up for the swearing in because he was called back, because he went and told Karunanidhi that I have been asked by Ahmed Patel to come for the swearing in. But the leader said then you join the Congress.
Barkha Dutt: (laughs) So now?
Niira Radia: So Raja was the only one who’s authorised to attend which he’s done and Raja’s catching the 8:40 flight...
Barkha Dutt: Okay