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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
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N A T I O N

It’s getting hot in UP

Rahul blows poll bugle
Muradnagar (UP), March 18
Rahul Gandhi today kicked off the Congress’ campaign to revive its fortunes in Uttar Pradesh ahead of the upcoming Assembly poll by asking people to defeat divisive forces and help the state regain its glorious past. Uttar Pradesh, which had historically showed the way to the country.
BSP, SP to give tough fight to saffron party
New Delhi, March 18
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is confident of improving its tally of 16 in the first phase of the assembly election in the biggest state as the anti-incumbency is beginning to adversely affect the prospects of the ruling Samajwadi Party which had won 24 seats.
An old woman blesses Rahul Gandhi at an election rally in Ghaziabad An old woman blesses Rahul Gandhi at an election rally in Ghaziabad on Sunday.
— PTI photo



EARLIER STORIES


Fast over, Jaya back to UPA bashing
Chennai, March 18
After completing an eight-hour fast today in connection with the notification of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal’s final verdict, former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayaram Jayalalithaa criticised the ruling UPA at the Centre and DMK-led minority regime in the state, accusing them of betraying Tamils’ interests.
In video (56k)

Bharatiya Janshakti Party president Uma Bharti announces the first list of candidates for the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections at a press conference in Lucknow
Bharatiya Janshakti Party president Uma Bharti announces the first list of candidates for the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections at a press conference in Lucknow on Sunday. — PTI photo

Don’t ride two horses, Cong to Pawar
New Delhi, March 18
Echo of the turf war between the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in Maharashtra was felt here with the former today cautioning Sharad Pawar against riding two horses.

Reddy favours hike in land conversion charges
New Delhi, March 18
The Union Urban Development Minister yesterday said the states should raise conversion charges on the use of agricultural land for construction purposes.

Patwatoli, village of IITians
48 Dalits have made it to institute on merit
Patna, March 18
In the land of "quota politics", Patwatoli village of Bihar truly stands out to be an exception. Unlike the champions of Mandalisation in polity, students here do not suffer from any "quota syndrome", which is often perceived as the only ladder for upward mobility for the Dalits and backwards.

Lalu for more jobs to Muslims in Railways
Patna, March 18
After the turnaround of Indian Railways to benefit the passengers in the past three years, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad now favours to use this biggest public sector platform for the turnaround of Indian Muslims.

Bihar jumps to No 13 in progress
Non UPA-ruled states among top 10
Patna, March 18
There is something to cheer for the Nitish Government as the state has showed considerable improvement in the Twenty-Point Programme (TPP) ladder under 15 months of the NDA rule.

Emulate Gujarat, shut bars: Ramadoss
Chennai, March 18
The moral police of Tamil Nadu, the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), is back in action again and now demanding that bars and liquor shops run by the state-owned TASMAC should be shut down and the state try to emulate Gujarat for development.

Partial solar eclipse today
New Delhi, March 18
Several parts of the country will wake up to a partially eclipsed sun tomorrow morning. The partial solar eclipse, visible across the country, will begin at 6.08 a.m. when the shadow of the moon first touches the Earth during the local sunrise at a point in the Bay of Bengal near the coast of Chennai.

Theatre artistes to net tax defaulters
Patna, March 18
The cash-strapped ruling NDA in Bihar now plans to use theatre artistes to catch tax defaulters in the Patna Municipal Corporation. If the Patna city commissioner Rana Awadhesh Singh is to be believed, soon theatre artistes will storm the city streets with stage plays to highlight the need to maintain better civic amenities which could only be possible when the residents do not evade tax, or else will have to face the consequences.

67 held after communal clash
Jaipur, March 18
As many as 67 persons were arrested today at Begun town in Rajasthan’s Chittorgarh district where situation was tense but under control following a communal clash that broke out over alleged splashing of colour near a place of worship, the police said.

Arrest warrant against Jogi
Raipur, March 18
Armed with a arrest warrant, police tonight went to a guest house at Gandai, about 140km from here, to nab former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi, in connection with the murder of NCP leader Ram Avatar Jaggi.

Video
Bipasha Basu—the dusky girl.
(56k)





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It’s getting hot in UP
Rahul blows poll bugle

Muradnagar (UP), March 18
Rahul Gandhi today kicked off the Congress’ campaign to revive its fortunes in Uttar Pradesh ahead of the upcoming Assembly poll by asking people to defeat divisive forces and help the state regain its glorious past.

Uttar Pradesh, which had historically showed the way to the country, had lost its way after 15 years of misrule, the son of Congress president Sonia Gandhi told a public meeting here as he began a three-day road show.

Earlier, the 37-year-old MP from Amethi promised a “new vision” and a “golden future” for the state at a roadside meeting in Mohan Nagar.

“Uttar Pradesh has been the cradle of development and all good things that has happened to the country, including the Independence struggle...I am here with a new vision and dream to restore the glory of the state.”

However, the public meeting here did not attract a sizeable crowd and began three hours behind schedule. Local Congress leaders blamed the state administration for the thin attendance, saying that many vehicles carrying party supporters were stopped before the venue of the meeting.

Rahul spoke in Muradnagar for just five minutes and dwelt on the lack of progress in the state under non-Congress governments. More than 40 per cent of the state’s funds came from the Centre but they were not used properly, he said, asking where were the hospitals and roads that could have been built with this money.

A large crowd waited at the UP Gate to have a glimpse of Rahul, whose motorcade took about three hours to traverse a distance of 15 km. — PTI

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BSP, SP to give tough fight to saffron party
Satish Mishra
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 18
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is confident of improving its tally of 16 in the first phase of the assembly election in the biggest state as the anti-incumbency is beginning to adversely affect the prospects of the ruling Samajwadi Party which had won 24 seats.

The BJP has a series of big rallies planned for March 25 in all major cities of the state.

The BJP had won 16 seats and had stood second in 17.

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, along with the party's chief ministerial candidate and three times Chief Minister Kalyan Singh, will be addressing a rally at Kanpur, one of the strongest area of Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Yadav's home district Etwah falls in this area. He will be contesting from Bharthana. His younger brother Shivpal Yadav, who is the PWD Minister in the state cabinet, is contesting from Jaswantnagar.

The BJP's main rivals in the region were the Bahujan Samaj Party and the SP.

The BSP had won 14 and had stood second in 18.

Not only the anti-incumbency factor is haunting the ruling SP but criminals, extortion and kidnapping are the real reasons which are going against the Chief Minister. ‘Over-Yadavisation’ of the state administration is another factor, which has aroused anger against the ruling party.

Though the BJP is hopeful of improving its performance in this region, which has a high percentage of Brahmins, but the BSP is also a strong contender and the contest is going to be mainly three-cornered. — TNS

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Fast over, Jaya back to UPA bashing
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, March 18
After completing an eight-hour fast today in connection with the notification of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal’s final verdict, former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayaram Jayalalithaa criticised the ruling UPA at the Centre and DMK-led minority regime in the state, accusing them of betraying Tamils’ interests.

Jayalalithaa alleged, “The Congress is only interested in keeping its shrinking flock together and retaining its vote bank in Karnataka. That is why they have failed to notify the award in the gazette and are continuing to deceive the Tamils with false arguments. Shortly, the people of Tamil Nadu will unseat the DMK regime and the AIADMK will capture power here.”

She further said, “Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi is misleading the public here by saying that there is a time limit of 90 days before the notification. This time is only meant for seeking explanations and issuing clarifications and nothing more.”

Replying to her charges this evening, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi said the Cauvery water dispute was not political. He said, “It will be wrong to say that Cauvery is a political issue. If the award is notified in the gazette, it will become the final ruling and close the doors permanently for future review petitions.”

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Don’t ride two horses, Cong to Pawar
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 18
Echo of the turf war between the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in Maharashtra was felt here with the former today cautioning Sharad Pawar against riding two horses.

Reacting to NCP supremo’s statement yesterday that the NCP was ready for an alliance with anyone, including the Shiv Sena, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said here that if anybody claimed to be secular ,then he cannot flirt with non-secular forces.

“Riding in two horses is not only bad for political health but also very confusing to the electorate,”he said.

In Baramati, Mr Pawar had yesterday stated that his party was open to an alliance with anyone ,including the Shiv Sena, in Maharashtra.

Turf war between the two alliance partners in Maharashtra has been on since municipal elections there. Differences over seat-sharing were so wide that there could not be any alliance between the Congress and the NCP during the municipal elections.

Meanwhile, asked to comment on the MDMK’s exit from the UPA alliance at the Centre, Mr Singhvi said it would have no impact on the ruling coalition.

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Reddy favours hike in land conversion charges
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 18
The Union Urban Development Minister yesterday said the states should raise conversion charges on the use of agricultural land for construction purposes.

Speaking at the valedictory function of the national consultation on “Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission: developing inclusive cities” here yesterday, he said internal and external development charges and conversion charges paid by the builders was nominal throughout the country and that these should be raised.

He said the money collected by the states should be used to provide housing for the poor.

He said the masterplan of Delhi provides that 35 per cent of the houses in new colonies should be reserved for the poor.

Mr Reddy said land was a state subject and conversion charges had to be raised by the state governments.

Laying emphasis on meeting the housing needs of poor in cities, he said “growth without equity was fruitless while equity without growth was rootless.”

Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Ms Selja said a group of ministers and mayors would be set up to work out strategy in six months for inclusive growth of cities. She said the policy would work to achieve the goal of affordable housing for all and slum-free cities.

Calling upon the state governments to prepare a blueprint for inclusive growth of cities, she said city master plans should have reservation for people working in the informal sector.

A city’s urban infrastructure system must fully integrate with the needs of the poor for basic amenities and pro-poor and gender budgeting must be incorporated in city plan allocations, she said.

The Minister said special thrust must be given to create vending zones to legalise the activities of street vendors.

The conference set up ‘forum of mayors’ and a ‘forum of city managers’ to widen stakeholders’ participation, particularly by the elected representatives and executives of the local government.

A colloquium of researchers was also created to provide specialised inputs on urban poverty alleviation programmes.

The conference was attended by ministers and mayors from several states.

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Patwatoli, village of IITians
48 Dalits have made it to institute on merit
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, March 18
In the land of "quota politics", Patwatoli village of Bihar truly stands out to be an exception.

Unlike the champions of Mandalisation in polity, students here do not suffer from any "quota syndrome", which is often perceived as the only ladder for upward mobility for the Dalits and backwards.

Known as the IIT village of Bihar, success here is redefined as "where there is a will, there is a way ".

This Dalit village in Gaya district has 48 students who have made it to the IIT on merit, and not quota now applicable in premier institutions, in the past one decade. Four of them made it last year alone.

The village has perpetual power crisis but IIT aspirants study together and are coached by their successful seniors.

Santosh Kumar, who owns a small shop in Gaya, told The Tribune that the story began in 1992 when the first student from village had cleared the exams and there has been no looking back since. Santosh said, "The aspiring poor students here help their fathers in the shops to earn their livelihood on one hand, and prepare for the IIT entrance on the other".

The fathers of the aspiring students are equally happy hoping their sons move out of the village. Soon after the first few students made it to IIT till 1993, the successful seniors then set up an organisation called "Nav Prayas".

This organisation helps aspirants from the village prepare for the exams. Social activist Ajay Kumar, who hails from Gaya, admits that the Nav Prayas is doing good social work. "Seniors are the guides and they instill confidence among new aspirants the need to compete".

Officials in the district administration too admire the tenacity of the Dalit students of Patwatoli. As Patwatoli emerges as a model for others to follow by producing 48 IIT students, it perhaps also shows how commitment combined with the concerted action can overcome toughest of odds, without quota.

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Lalu for more jobs to Muslims in Railways
Tribune News Service

Patna, March 18
After the turnaround of Indian Railways to benefit the passengers in the past three years, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad now favours to use this biggest public sector platform for the turnaround of Indian Muslims.

Lalu was shocked to learn that there were only 35,000 Muslim employees, mostly at lower ranks, out of 1.6 million employees in the Railways.

Lalu had rushed here from New Delhi by a special flight, after sharing the turnaround story of the Railways with 57 management students from the US on Friday, to attend the “Insaaf” conference organised by several Muslim bodies to press the central government to implement the Sachar Committee report.

The conference was held in presence of a 25-member delegation of “Insaaf”, led by Syed Hamid, former vice-chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University, who arrived here as part of their campaign to create awareness for the necessity of implementation of the report.

Former Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra and state HRD minister Brishen Patel represented the ruling JD (U) at the conference. The BJP was conspicuous by its absence.

In his address, Lalu said he would direct top officials to increase the Muslim representation in the Railways. “At present, the numbers of Muslim employees in the Railways is inadequate. I will look into it to increase the numbers,” he asserted.

Apparently in a bid to arrest his eroding minority support base, Lalu claimed that the way he had fought for the implementation of the Mandal Commission report, he would do so for the Sachar Committee report too.

Both Mishra and Patel downplayed the allegations by Lalu that the 15-month-old Nitish government was unfriendly towards Muslims, who account for 16.5 per cent of the state’s 83 million population.

On the contrary, Patel listed a slew of measures initiated by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for the socio-economic uplift of Muslims, including raising the demand for reservation for Dalit Muslims on the lines of SC and STs of Hindus.

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Bihar jumps to No 13 in progress
Non UPA-ruled states among top 10
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, March 18
There is something to cheer for the Nitish Government as the state has showed considerable improvement in the Twenty-Point Programme (TPP) ladder under 15 months of the NDA rule.

Sources say that the recent progress report of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation of the ruling UPA at the Centre on state’s performance relating to the much-talked about TPP clearly showed the upward move of Bihar in the ladder from bottom bypassing the so-called progressive states.

In a major turnaround, Bihar, once placed at the bottom, has jumped to the 13th position from the 29th position in the previous period.

The TPP was a package of social sector schemes and programmes having an important bearing on the poor and underprivileged.

The findings by the ministry was likely to irk the coalition partner of the Congress at the Centre, the RJD, whose ministers recently organised a "development march" in the state charging the Nitish Government with slow implementtaion of various central-sponsored schemes targeting the poor.

The findings reportedly showed that during the period April to November, 2006, the non-UPA ruled states like Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Orissa figured among the 10 best performing states in terms of TPP parameters.

On the contrary the Congress-ruled states like Jammu and Kashmir and Assam were at the bottom of the table with rankings at 27 and 29, respectively, among the 30 states being monitored for programme.

Besides, the Congress-ruled Maharashtra occupied the 21st rank.

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Emulate Gujarat, shut bars: Ramadoss
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, March 18
The moral police of Tamil Nadu, the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), is back in action again and now demanding that bars and liquor shops run by the state-owned TASMAC should be shut down and the state try to emulate Gujarat for development.

In past, the party had always been on the centrestage of controversies over "morality in public life" and condemned film stars for drinking and smoking on screen and for liberal views on sex.

PMK founder S. Ramadoss refused to buy Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi's argument that revenue generated from sale of liquor from TASMAC shops came handy to implement several welfare schemes. There are no private liquor shops in the state.

Justifying his crusade against liquor and tobacco, Ramadoss cited the example of Gujarat.

Taking a leaf out of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's welfare schemes to unveil the Rs 11,000 crore project for infrastructure development in 3,000 villages, he wondered how Modi could announce such a mega project when there was total prohibition in the state.

Though the PMK is part of the ruling UPA at the Centre, Ramadoss did not hesitate to compliment Modi. He asked, "How is it possible for Gujarat to top the list of developed states without getting any money from liquor shops? How is it possible for the Chief Minister to implement various development schemes there?" However, the PMK leader chose to ignore the fact that IMFL smuggled from other states is being openly sold from roadside "dhabas" in Gujarat and illicit brewing is a major problem there because of prohibition.

Following Ramadoss' demand, the Chief Minister said there could be no other opinion about closure of liquor shops but argued that it would only lead to free flowing of illicit liquor in the state.

Karunanidhi said, "It will also pave the way for smuggling of liquor into Tamil Nadu from adjoining states."

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Partial solar eclipse today

New Delhi, March 18
Several parts of the country will wake up to a partially eclipsed sun tomorrow morning.

The partial solar eclipse, visible across the country, will begin at 6.08 a.m. when the shadow of the moon first touches the Earth during the local sunrise at a point in the Bay of Bengal near the coast of Chennai.

The beginning of the eclipse will be visible only from the eastern, north eastern and some parts of north India.

The remaining parts of India will see sunrise after the eclipse begins.

It will end at 9.55 a.m. when the moon’s shadow leaves the earth at local sunset at a point in the Beaufort Sea, north of Alaska. — PTI

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Theatre artistes to net tax defaulters
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, March 18
The cash-strapped ruling NDA in Bihar now plans to use theatre artistes to catch tax defaulters in the Patna Municipal Corporation.

If the Patna city commissioner Rana Awadhesh Singh is to be believed, soon theatre artistes will storm the city streets with stage plays to highlight the need to maintain better civic amenities which could only be possible when the residents do not evade tax, or else will have to face the consequences.

The decision was a departure from the earlier fancy idea of the MC to use eunuchs for the same. Sources disclosed that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar himself disapproved the idea as it might lead to public outrage.

Rana Awadesh Singh said the purpose of using theatre artistes was to urge the people to pay holding tax in time so that the MC could provide them better services.

Faced with a financial crisis, about 70,000 of the total 1 lakh holdings are still to be assessed by the MC. While it has to pay Rs 2.25 crore per year as salary to its 3,200 employees, the huge number of tax evaders could never be booked in the past.

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67 held after communal clash

Jaipur, March 18
As many as 67 persons were arrested today at Begun town in Rajasthan’s Chittorgarh district where situation was tense but under control following a communal clash that broke out over alleged splashing of colour near a place of worship, the police said.

So far 67 persons belonging to both communities were arrested in connection with the violence, IG (Udaipur range) Rajeev Dasod said.

The situation was fully under control, he said, adding no untoward incident was reported since yesterday’s violence.

The town was tense since last evening when a procession of a particular community was passing through a place of worship and some people allegedly splashed gulaal near it.

“Tomorrow, we are likely to hold a peace meeting in order to bring peace and harmony and to sort out the differences, if any, between the two communities,” Dasod said. Section 144 of the IPC has been promulgated in the town.

Dasod said the police was searching the house of people who were allegedly involved in the clash and so far seized 11 swords and three sharp knives from two different places.

Three cases were registered in this connection, including one under the Arms Act. — PTI

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Arrest warrant against Jogi

Raipur, March 18
Armed with a arrest warrant, police tonight went to a guest house at Gandai, about 140km from here, to nab former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi, in connection with the murder of NCP leader Ram Avatar Jaggi.

However, Jogi complained of chest pain and was put on oxygen at the guest house.

Police sources here said a team of policemen led by Raipur SSP D.S. Maravi, headed for Rajnandgaon town, 70km from here, and met Jogi on the way and conveyed to him about the warrant.

They said Jogi told the police to take him to a government guest house at Gandai, 140km from Raipur, and on reaching there he complained of illness. — PTI

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