Sun TV may be sold
If the buzz in the political corridors is to be believed, Sun TV, which has been denied security clearance by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), may sell its ownership to another business house. Sun TV, a market leader in South India, and its radio channels owned by the Maran brothers, Kalanidhi and Dayanidhi, are said to be under pressure as they do not have security clearances. The decision to deny security clearance was based on considerations of “adverse impact on economic security”. The Maran brothers are facing a CBI probe over the alleged illegal allotment of 300 high-speed BSNL telephone lines to the residence of former Union minister Dayanidhi Maran in Chennai, which were extended to his brother’s channel. There are two more criminal cases against the Sun TV network and its owner Kalanidhi Maran — CBI’s Aircel Maxis case and an ED case of money laundering. The MHA’s move has apparently been contradicted by Attorney General of India, Mukul Rohatgi and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Even the Sri Lankan government had blacklisted Sun TV and its employees from reporting in Sri Lanka.
When Nawaz praised Shatrughan
Shatrughan Sinha’s biographer, journalist and film critic Bharathi Pradhan has written in the actor’s about to be released biography, Anything But Khamosh about the BJP MP’s cordial relations with Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. The book recalls an incident at the Taj Mansingh Hotel in New Delhi where Sharif had been put up when he visited India for PM Narendra Modi’s swearing-in in 2014. On arrival at the hotel, Shatrughan and his team of four were taken to Sharif apparently even without any security checks, such was his popularity with Sharif’s men. Shatrughan had taken boxes of kaju katli (cashew nut sweetmeat) and a huge box of kulfi for Sharif, after discreetly finding out what the Pakistan PM was fond of. At the end of the meeting, Sharif, too, had something for Shatrughan: two green boxes of almond cookies from a Karachi bakery. During the meeting, apart from inviting Shatrughan to visit him again in Pakistan — the two had met even when Sharif was in the Opposition and the Asif Zardari government was in power — Sharif said, “People like Shatru Saab can play a very important role in fostering good relations between the two countries.”
Sajjan Jindal is on Track-II
Is steel tycoon Sajjan Jindal conducting some Track II diplomacy between India and Pakistan? The stepbrother of former Congress MP Naveen Jindal was a guest at Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s birthday and granddaughter’s wedding on 25 December, the day Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Lahore to wish Sharif. Jindal runs a steel business with Sharif’s family in Dubai and is a personal friend. When Sharif had come to Delhi to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi, the only personal visit he had made was to Sajjan Jindal’s house. His presence in Lahore has had many asking if he had a role to play in fixing the meeting between the two PMs.
Manish Tewari set to replace Gill in RS
Manish Tewari, Information and Broadcasting Minister in the erstwhile UPA government, could not contest the Lok Sabha elections from Punjab in 2014 because of illness. He is now all set to replace K.P.S. Gill in Rajya Sabha from Punjab, as the Congress needs more “political people” in the Upper House. Gill, a former Punjab DGP, does not fit the bill. Congress’ three RS seats from Punjab will be vacated in April. Ambika Soni, whose term expires in April, is likely to continue as she had played an active role in convincing a reluctant Rahul Gandhi to make Captain Amarinder Singh the Pradesh Congress president in place of Partap Singh Bajwa; and Soni is close to both Amarinder Singh and the Gandhis. The third RS member who will retire in April is Ashwani Kumar. He is being backed by Manmohan Singh, but does not have many friends in the party. If he fails to get a re-nomination, he might be replaced by Preneet Kaur, Amarinder Singh’s wife. But this will happen only if she does not contest from Amritsar, the Lok Sabha seat which will be vacated by her husband, who will contest from her Patiala Assembly seat.
Rahul upset with Prithviraj
There is speculation over former Maharashtra Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan continuing in the party as Rahul Gandhi is upset with him over his recent utterances. Chavan criticised Rahul’s “passive” role in Parliament, saying that the latter needed to be more aggressive and focus on his body language to improve his credibility among the masses. Chavan seems to be angry that he has been sidelined. He was lobbying to get a post either as Pradesh Congress Committee chief or Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly. However, Maharashtra leaders are opposed to his elevation as they blame him for the party’s defeat in the state. Chavan is now isolated in the Assembly, with not a single MLA standing by him. He made the nine-time MLA from Karar vacate his seat for him. However, though he was the CM, he did not canvass for any candidate in the run-up to the Assembly elections. As a result, he does not have a single supporter in the state.
Unani dispensaries in bad shape
Paucity of medicines and pharmacists has rendered government-run Unani dispensaries in the national capital defunct. Even the dispensary in the posh South Avenue, meant for VIPs and MPs, has not had any new stock of medicines, not even for common cold and fever in the last six months. “When I cannot cure a patient of simple cold, why am I sitting here?” asks the doctor there. The dispensary also does not have a pharmacist.
Taslima may not get citizenship
It is unlikely that Bangladeshi feminist writer Taslima Nasreen will get an Indian citizenship, the way Pakistani singer Adnan Sami got it. The Sheikh Hasina-led Bangladesh government is against the same, as giving citizenship to Taslima will lower Dhaka’s “image” considerably and will lend credence to the charge that Bangladesh cannot protect the democratic rights of its “liberal voices”.