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The buzz

india Updated: Jun 20, 2011 22:54 IST

Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

It's the wrong number
Are the Marans trying to patch up with former Aircel chief C Sivasankaran? The buzz is that industrialist Kalanidhi Maran and his wife flew to Singapore to attempt a truce with Sivasankaran after he had told the CBI in the 2G probe that he was forced by Kalanidhi's brother and the textile minister, Dayanidhi Maran, to sell his stake in Aircel to Maxis. But the Malaysia-based businessman was in no mood for any compromise. For the Marans, it seems all lines to this route are busy.

Proving to be too taxing
Last Saturday, reports quoting an unnamed finance ministry official stated that Indian firms had paid 77% more in advance taxes for the first quarter of 2011 than they did in the same period last year. Companies pay advance tax every quarter on the basis of their projected income for the year. An increase in these figures reflects a rise in corporate income. Such huge tax collections went contrary to other anecdotal and empirical evidence that point to an imminent slowdown. As some papers headlined these numbers, the finance ministry swung into damage control mode and chairman, central board of direct taxes, Prakash Chandra, clarified on the same day that the comparisons were incorrect. Figure that out now.

Possible train of thought
It is common knowledge that Mamata Banerjee has anointed loyalist Mukul Roy to succeed her as the railways minister. Roy has also started sitting in the chamber occupied by Banerjee. But there could be a twist in the tale in store for Roy. Ever since Banerjee's exit from the Rail Bhavan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been regularly summoning KH Muniyappa, the other minister of state (MoS), for discussions concerning rail projects. Muniyappa is the senior-most amongst the railway MoSs and enjoys the PM's trust. Could Muniyappa be on track to end Roy's ministerial ambitions?

Not keeping it bottled up
As television crews milled around Claridges Hotel on June 3, the men they were waiting to hear, Baba Ramdev and government emissaries Kapil Sibal and Subodh Kant Sahay, were busy in a game of 'water diplomacy'. As waiters brought bottles of Kinley mineral water for the ministers, Ramdev and his aides, Baba tersely turned it down, saying that he does not drink Kinley — a Coca-Cola product. But the ministers were equally quick on their feet, offering him Himalaya water bottles instead. A few days later, news reports on the yoga guru's selective opposition to multinational products appeared. With almost every room in his ashram adorned with a Samsung flat-screen television, his opposition holds no water.

Keeping a fine balance
Recovering from his illness in Singapore, superstar Rajnikanth called up Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa to say that her party's victory in the assembly polls had "saved" the state. The following day, he spoke to DMK chief M Karunanidhi, asking him to focus on his health. While the state government gave out one version of the conversation, the DMK gave out the other. Quick gun Murugan, it would seem.

The dragon's no democrat
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar is highly impressed with everything about China after his seven-day visit there. But he isn't convinced by the idea of a "democratic" Bihar following in the footsteps of the communist giant. "Here, we debate everything. There, they just do it (by force). But every country must stick to its own path," he said.