Six months after Vir Sanghvi said he had “suspended” his weekly column Counterpoint, in the wake of the Niira Radia tapes that had him dictating his weekly output to the 2G scam-tainted lobbyist for her approval, the Hindustan Times has announced a new column in the slot occupied by Sanghvi’s.
The byline: “Chanakya“.
In the inaugural column, Chanakya who describes himself “as an outside admirer of the Left”, suggests the purging of Prakash Karat after the Left defeat in West Bengal.
So, who could Chanakya be?
Hindustan Times has had a strange history with pseudonymous authors.
In December 2008, Raju Narisetti, the founder of Mint, the business daily launched by HT, exited the paper in the wake of an open letter by “a serving IAS officer writing under the pseudonym Athreya“, which attacked prime minister Manmohan Singh.
The open letter by the IAS officer led to a question being posed to the government by the opposition BJP in Parliament and an abrasive response from then home minister P. Chidambaram.
Narisetti wrote a blog post answering Chidambaram and then printed the clarification in the paper on the use of pseudonyms:
“In November 1937, the Modern Review, then India’s most well-regarded journal of opinion, published an article on Jawaharlal Nehru written by Chanakya, an obvious pseudonym. The author hit out at Nehru’s latent dictatorial tendencies and his “intolerance for others and a certain contempt for the weak and inefficient”. Its author warned: “Jawaharlal might fancy himself as a Caesar.” There were howls of protest from loyalists until it was revealed much later that Nehru himself was the author of this piece.”
Thanks to Niira Radia, “Chanakya” returns to Kasturba Gandhi Marg.
In his avatar as a columnist, the Union minister for forests and environment Jairam Ramesh wrote under the pen name Kautilya.
The former Congress prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao was routinely referred to as Chanakya. Hindustan Times chairman Shobana Bharatiya is a Congress member of Parliament.
Also read: An open letter to the PM