Buzz in Delhi: Sathasivam & Munda in presidential race

While the NDA is expected to announce its Presidential candidate a week from now, BJP insiders believe it will be a dark horse, a ‘surprise’ as BJP president Amit Shah hinted

PTI Photo
PTI Photo

S Khurram Raza

An enigmatic smile hovering on his lips, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national president Amit Shah dismissed questions with a wave of his arm. “You continue speculating but the name will come as a surprise,” he said when quizzed on the National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) possible presidential candidate. He was interacting with journalists in Capital’s Ashoka Hotel last month.

The reply, if it is taken at face value, would indicate that the name is already known to Shah; and the search committee formed by him to hold parleys with the opposition for a consensus candidate is just a cosmetic exercise.

But that has not prevented the fourth estate from speculating. While the name of the Jharkhand Governor Draupadi Murmu was considered a certainty till a few days ago, a rider has been introduced to point out that she has never been with the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) while former deputy speaker of the Lok Sabha and eight-time MP Karia Munda has been an old RSS loyalist and may have better credentials than Murmu.

A BJP Member of Parliament from the South, however, confided that southern states are witnessing the kind of ‘Modi wave’ that the North had seen in 2014. And with the BJP expecting to lose a few seats in the North in 2019, it has to make up the loss in the South. The party, therefore, would like to bring in a President from the South, he added confidently.

A senior Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader from the south, or Kerala Governor and former Chief Justice of India, P Sathasivam, the MP felt, were strong contenders for the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Sathasivam, the first Chief Justice of India to be appointed Governor of a state, had quashed an FIR against Amit Shah in the fake encounter of Tulsiram Prajapati. Media reports had also spoken of Sathasivam attending a wedding in New Delhi and lobbying for being appointed the chairman of the National Human Rights of Commission (NHRC) so that he could move to the national capital.

Draupadi Murmu, meanwhile, met the Prime Minister in Delhi, which has revived speculation about her candidature.

Hardship allowance for TV channel reporters

After Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyer refusing to speak to Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV in Srinagar ( I do not speak to anti-national channels; now get out, he told the hapless reporters), it was the turn of Lalu Yadav to take umbrage to aggressive questioning on his relations with Shahabuddin and the alleged conversation he had over the phone with the jailed MP in prison. “ Why is he in jail?” was one of the questions put to him by a persistent reporter as he came out of a meeting in Parliament House. Lalu Yadav eventually lost his cool and snapped at the reporter that he would rough him up if the reporter did not stop. While the channel went to town accusing the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief of misbehaving with its reporters, others on social media who cannot stand the hectoring tone of the channel felt it was poetic justice. A wag quipped that soon reporters of some of the channels would start asking for ‘hardship’ allowance.

What to ask and when ?

While asking the right question at the right time to the right person is a much valued skill in reporters, a Zee News channel reporter found himself at the receiving end for asking what he no doubt was told was an obvious question by his channel. The reporter had finished interviewing a farmers’ leader at the Gandhi Peace Foundation and left. But he soon returned , prompted by the channel, to ask ‘one last question’. Would he say that it was shameful for Rahul Gandhi and the Congress to have instigated the farmers at Mandsaur, the reporter asked. He then helpfully added that this is what the BJP president Amit Shah had also stated. While the camera rolled, he got a mouthful of expletives that obviously could not be put on air.


The Sahitya Akademi has doubled the annual membership fee of its library from ₹1000 to ₹2000. The idea is to make the Akademy run profitably, commercially and not depend on government grants, explained an employee. The official explanation is awaited.

With inputs from Vishwadeepak

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Published: 15 Jun 2017, 7:30 PM