RSTV will not host discussion with Naidugaru

With four more days to go before the Vice-Presidential election, it is clear that Venkaiah Naidu is in no mood for a televised discussion with Gopalkrishna Gandhi

Photo by Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times via Getty Images


“I am yet to hear from RSTV and am not unhopeful,” was the cryptic response from Gopalkrishna Gandhi, when asked if Rajya Sabha TV had responded to his request for a panel discussion between him and Venkaiah Naidu.

“My suggestion is that the Hon’ble Venkaiah Naidugaru and I have a discussion on RSTV, anchored by anyone of RSTV’s choice, on the role of the Vice President, the historic importance of the Rajya Sabha, of Parliament itself and our respective visions for our country as the world's most populous democracy. The discussion should, by mutual understanding, keep it completely above party politics and personalities. Such a pre-recorded discussion conducted with mutual respect and in the frankest friendship, will be of great help to the Hon’ble Members of Parliament in the formulation of their choice for the election slated for August 5, 2017. It will also be, needless to say, of great interest to the public at large,” was what he had written to RSTV.

Although Naidugaru is known for his witticisms, one-liners, rhymes and acronyms, there is little doubt about who would have been the more impressive of the two in the discussion. Unofficially, sources in the BJP dismiss the proposal as a headline grabbing ‘gimmick’. But at least one BJP leader declared that Naidu would avoid any discussion with the former diplomat and Governor for the same reasons for which Sonia Gandhi might avoid a televised debate with Narendra Modi. Ahem.

Will Amit Shah be the Defence Minister or FM?

The national capital is once again abuzz with speculation of an impending cabinet reshuffle. Amit Shah, who is expected to get elected to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat, has been widely tipped to be the next Home minister, possibly because he was the Home Minister in Gujarat under Narendra Modi. But the grapevine is also abuzz with rumours that he will take over either Defence or the Finance portfolio at the Centre. The argument being cited is that Shah already has his men in law-enforcing and investigating agencies. And since the next few months will see massive defence procurement, it makes sense to have him strategically placed as the Raksha Mantri or, better still, as the Finance Minister. Being a stock broker and having registered a 300% growth in his assets in the last five years, according to his affidavit filed this year, nobody should doubt his credentials to handle finance.

NK Singh, Ambani brothers and JD(U)

The elder of the two Ambani brothers is learnt to have backed the coup in Bihar. The relationship between Nitish Kumar and the Ambani brothers goes back a long way, suggests the grapevine, with former bureaucrat NK Singh playing the role of the guardian angel. Singh is known to have helped Ambanis grow, so much so that a retired bureaucrat remembers how Singh had sent both the brothers out of his room once when Singh wanted to receive some confidential information from the retired bureaucrat. Nitish Kumar in return had arranged for a Rajya Sabha berth for Singh then. Nitish Kumar’s zero tolerance for corruption, quipped an old associate on condition of anonymity, is obviously a farce.

Jaitley should get the credit for coup in Bihar

Rashtriya Janata Dal sources believe that neither Amit Shah nor KC Tyagi played any role in ‘converting’ the heart of Bihar chief minister and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar. They claim it is Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who has been an old friend of Nitish Kumar, who prepared the groundwork quietly. On the one hand he continued working on the Bihar chief minister and on the other he allowed agencies under him to pile up pressure on Lalu Yadav.

Manoj Sinha out of Modi’s good books

Once Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s blue-eyed boy, Communications Minister Manoj Sinha appears to have slipped from the PM’s good books. Unconfirmed reports emanating from officials in his ministry claim that the PMO did not take kindly to the minister calling up industrialist Mukesh Ambani for a favour to the son of an old friend of the minister from Varanasi. He was apparently advised to be more careful in future and not to call up the industrialist ‘directly’.

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Published: 31 Jul 2017, 6:36 PM