Venkaiah as President?

May 29 2017

If everything goes as planned, then Modi’s patron saint and crisis manager Venkaiah Naidu may well be the next resident of Raisina Hills, the Presidential Palace. The wily Modi, whose finger on the country’s political pulse has been proved repeatedly, calculates that getting a politician from the South will have a salutary impact. This, especially at a time when Modi and his political soul mate Amit Shah is desperate to get a strong entrée into the southern bastion. It is learnt that a couple of days ago, Modi held a critical meeting with top aides Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Nitin Gadkari on the issue of the Prez polls. There he is learnt to have proffered Naidu’s name and asked for the responses of the foursome. Sources say that apart from the political calculations, Modi also desires to pay off an old debt. At the time of the Gujarat anti-Muslim pogrom in 2002, Naidu was the party’s national president. The then Gujarat home minister Haren Pandya was majorly against Modi. The central leadership of the party had tried to tell Modi, much to his ire, not to make Pandya a prestige issue. But it is at this juncture that Naidu asked Pandya to stay away from the fray in the Gujarat polls. This, sources reveal, Modi considers a great favour. Which is also the reason that despite his abject failure as Parliamentary Affairs minister, Naidu today has two plum ministries under him: urban development and information & broadcasting. But a section of the party is also hoping that the moment Naidu’s name is officially announced the old skeletons in his cupboard will tumble out. It may be recalled that Naidu’s name had figured in a Rs 100 crore scam in the allocation for Andhra Pradesh when he was rural development minister in the Vajpayee government. That report by yours truly had appeared in Punjab Kesari leading to the Opposition virtually shutting down Parliament for four days.

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