SPECIAL COVERAGE
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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

PC promises early polls in Jharkhand
New Delhi, July 14
The Lok Sabha passed by a voice vote a resolution moved by Home Minister P Chidambarm here today to extend President’s rule in Jharkhand for another six months, following an assurance from him that he would urge the Election Commission to hold elections in the state soon - “Soon after monsoon is over.”

Ads During LS Polls
BSP candidate under lens for overspending
Lucknow, July 14
The good news is that money cannot help win a parliamentary election. The bad news is that the BSP candidate from Lucknow, Akhilesh Das, who came third in the electoral race, reportedly spent approximately Rs 57.97 lakh on advertisements and advertorials in three leading Hindi dailies of Lucknow alone.

Azhar bats well on political wicket
Talks about minorities in his maiden speech
New Delhi, July 14
It was Mohd Azharuddin’s day in the spotlight and he lived every bit of it. Excited to the extent of concluding that India-South Africa owed their improved international ties to cricket, the Moradabad MP went out his way during discussions on the General Budget in the Lok Sabha today to pretend that he cared more about other games than cricket. The latter, he said, was “well-looked-after”.



EARLIER STORIES



Assam House not to use ‘Islamic’ as prefix to fundamentalists
Guwahati, July 14
The words ‘Islamic fundamentalists’, used worldwide to refer to the Muslim terrorists groups, have become a taboo in Assam Assembly after the Speaker TB Rai expunged the word ‘Islamic’ from the day’s record proceedings following a debate that started when the government replied to a question regarding ‘Islamic fundamentalist’ groups.

Cong hits back at Sushma over remarks on Rahul
New Delhi, July 14
Senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj’s remarks on young Congress MPs, specifically Nehru-Gandhi scion Rahul Gandhi, saw an indignant Congress today hitting back at the Opposition party.

Drought-like situation in Bihar
Patna, July 14
The state of Bihar, synonymous with perennial floods, is facing a drought-like situation this time. Due to 50 per cent deficient rainfall, the farmers of this agro-based state are finding it difficult to maintain the paddy saplings awaiting transplantation.

CPM MLAs protest in front of Patna Assembly on Tuesday demanding Bihar to be declared drought affected. — PTI

CPM MLAs protest in front of Patna Assembly on Tuesday demanding Bihar to be declared drought affected

River dispute
Karuna seeks Centre’s intervention
Chennai, July 14
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi today demanded Centre's intervention to stop the Andhra Pradesh government from going ahead with the construction of a dam across Palar river as the petition filed against the project was pending in the Supreme Court.

ID card duplication must end: Nilekani
Bangalore, July 14
Nandan Nilekani, appointed as Unique Identification Authority of India (UIAI) chairman, yesterday said the UIAI would create a centralised databank of citizens with a nation-wide network.

Uproar in MP assembly over virginity tests
Bhopal, July 14
The state Assembly today witnessed unruly scenes, including exchange of allegations between the members of the ruling BJP and main opposition Congress, over the issue of alleged virginity tests of brides during a state-sponsored mass marriage in Shahdol district.

Montek: Monsoon situation improving
New Delhi, July 14
Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia has today said the monsoon situation is improving in most parts of the country. "Government is concerned over the delay in monsoons," Ahluwalia said here on the sidelines of a CII-organised summit on infrastructure.

Curfew along B’desh border
Guwahati, July 14
Dusk-to-dawn curfew has been clamped along the Dhubri sector of India-Bangladesh border in Assam from 6 pm to 6 am to check the menace of cattle smuggling to the neighbouring country through the unfenced river portion of the border.

Now, mishap at Mumbai Metro site
Mumbai, July 14
A metallic structure supporting main concrete pillars at the city’s under-construction first Metro line collapsed in the northwest suburb of Sakineka following gusty winds. No one was injured in the incident which took place at 1130 hours last night when work was going on at the construction site of Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar metro rail.

Flu scare shuts Google office
Hyderabad, July 14
The incidence of swine flu took an alarming turn in Hyderabad today with the first case of ‘cluster formation’ being reported in which a software professional who had returned from the United States tested positive for the virus. He is said to have infected his roommates and colleagues as well.





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PC promises early polls in Jharkhand
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 14
The Lok Sabha passed by a voice vote a resolution moved by Home Minister P Chidambarm here today to extend President’s rule in Jharkhand for another six months, following an assurance from him that he would urge the Election Commission to hold elections in the state soon - “Soon after monsoon is over.”

The resolution was passed after a two-hour debate, which saw some initial fireworks between the Congress and the BJP over widespread corruption and mismanagement of the state. Simultaneously, it also passed the state’s budget and demand for grants.

While former chief minister Arjun Munda and BJP member accused the administration under the Governor for large-scale corruption in the state, it was left to Chidambram to point out that “in these last nine years since the state was formed, the Congress has not had one minister or one chief minister there.” He conceded Opposition charge that there vigilance cases and FIRs were pending even against former cabinet ministers there.”

Chidambram said: “President’s rule is no panacea for the problems of any state.” He also stated that last nine years were not the best years for this state. It has seen four chief ministers in this short period and all four happen to be members of this House. Only party that has not had any ministers or chief minister is the Congress. If these governments are tainted or were tainted, that does not apply to the Congress because no Congress member was a minister or a chief minister.”

Chidambaram’s statement was preceded by Congress members Jagdambika Pal and Subodh Kanat Sahay recounting how the BJP which has ruled the state for almost seven of the nine years of the existence of Jharkhand was responsible for most of the ills mentioned by Munda and recalled its record of horse-trading in the state. And the Congress received support from unexpected quarters when former state chief minister Babu Lal Marandi, once a BJP member, claimed corruption prevailed in the state since 2003. That was the year when the BJP removed him and made Arjun Munda the state chief minister.

The Home Minister’s statement came in the wake of demands from all sections of the House that extension of President’s rule should not be used to foist another unpopular government in the state through horse-trading and manipulation and instead elections to the state assembly be held as early as possible. Arjun Munda led the charge. And most other parties and leaders, including CPM’s Basudeb Acharia, CPI, Forward Bloc, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and even National Conference urged the government not to use the extension of President’s rule to foist another government through sale/purchase of MLAs.

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Ads During LS Polls
BSP candidate under lens for overspending
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, July 14
The good news is that money cannot help win a parliamentary election. The bad news is that the BSP candidate from Lucknow, Akhilesh Das, who came third in the electoral race, reportedly spent approximately Rs 57.97 lakh on advertisements and advertorials in three leading Hindi dailies of Lucknow alone.

The startling revelation has been made after concerned citizens took the initiative to monitor, aggregate and analyse election news coverage appearing in the Lucknow editions of three leading Hindi dailies during the 15th Lok Sabha campaign.

The 14-page report released yesterday observes “The distinction between news, views and political campaigning (read advertising) was not clear in some leading dailies during the coverage of the 15 Lok Sabha election. The use of 'advt' or 'marketing media initiative' tag in small font-size printed is not sufficient to inform the reader whether the content is news, views or paid advertising by an election candidate.”

Describing this as “a gross breach of trust with the reader/viewer who expects unbiased and fair news coverage during elections”, the reports notes that large amounts of money were spent on paid advertising, advertorials and other manners like 'marketing media initiative' and likes, to solicit earned and paid media coverage of a candidate during elections, often crosses the spending cap of Rs 25 lakhs.

“Hence, media is colluding with parties and candidates in violating the model code of conduct during elections. Moreover, the transactions for advertisements in the garb of news items are not even shown in the records.” points out the report.

“It is obvious that political parties and candidates, who strictly follow the guidelines of the Election Commission elsewhere, are unabashedly using the media and the media is allowing itself to be used. Action needs to be taken against both.”

Undertaking a gigantic task of calculating the advertorials on the basis of the current advertisement rates of these three leading papers, the citizen report has concluded that political parties spent approximately the following amounts in these three papers of Lucknow alone. The BJP spent around Rs. 96.58 lakh, the Congress (Rs 57.46 lakh), the Samajwadi party (Rs. 1.64 crore) and the Bahujan Samaj Party ( Rs 30.20 lakh).

The BSP candidate from Lucknow Akhilesh Das, with a declared assets of Rs 52 crore was not only one of the richest candidate in state’s electoral fray but the one who spent approximately Rs 57.97 lakh for coverage in just these three Lucknow-based newspapers points out the report.

According to the report the Election Commission must take into account the expenditure in newspapers in calculating the overall expenses of a candidate. Political parties issue advertisements that are not counted towards the election expenses of any single candidate. “There should be a ceiling on expenditure by parties too. Alternatively, the expenditure of a political party must be divided equally among all its candidates.” the report suggests.

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Azhar bats well on political wicket
Talks about minorities in his maiden speech

Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 14
It was Mohd Azharuddin’s day in the spotlight and he lived every bit of it. Excited to the extent of concluding that India-South Africa owed their improved international ties to cricket, the Moradabad MP went out his way during discussions on the General Budget in the Lok Sabha today to pretend that he cared more about other games than cricket. The latter, he said, was “well-looked-after”.

The former skipper of the Indian cricket team, in fact, surprised all by batting exceptionally well on the political wicket. He made the right moves, raised the right issues - from SCs and STs to OBCs and minorities and, most importantly, opened his maiden speech in the lower house with an “ode” to chief Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul.

Once the thanks-giving session to the UPA to brass was over, the MP proceeded to talk business and budget, managing to pepper his largely sports-oriented speech with some sparse views on global recession and how the Finance Minister had done so well in limiting its effects on the Indian economy.

The former cricketer was, however, unhappy with the way the meltdown had hit his own people in Moradabad constituency, famous as the “Pital Nagri (metal town). “Artisans in my area have been hit hard. I request the FM to bail them out,” said the cricketer-turned-politician, congratulating the Congress-led UPA for promising to implement the Sachar committee recommendations on Muslim welfare.

Political formalities taken care of, the first-time MP Azharuddin returned to his favourite topic of sports, dotting his speech with generous advice to the government on how to pep up the insipid sports sector.

Be it the matter of the Sports Authority of India spending majority funds in giving away staff salaries or the need to strengthen hockey (which was the best sport of the former cricketer’s grandfather), Azhar said it all to the Finance Minister, opening each of his sentences with “I think”, as he used to in the past while taking questions on the cricket field.

The best part of Azhar’s speech was his humility to admit that being an MP and making a point in the House was more difficult than playing cricket.

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Assam House not to use ‘Islamic’ as prefix to fundamentalists
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, July 14
The words ‘Islamic fundamentalists’, used worldwide to refer to the Muslim terrorists groups, have become a taboo in Assam Assembly after the Speaker TB Rai expunged the word ‘Islamic’ from the day’s record proceedings following a debate that started when the government replied to a question regarding ‘Islamic fundamentalist’ groups.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi too informed the House that his government would not use the phrase ‘Islamic fundamentalist’ or ‘Hindu fundamentalist’ in any communication in future while referring to fundamentalist militant groups. “Terrorist groups irrespective of their religious allegiance will be dealt with severely according to the law of the land,” he added.

The matter came up for a debate through a point of order when the Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) MLA AH Chaudhury objected to the phrase ‘Islamic fundamentalist’ in a question raised by Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) MLA Prabin Kumar Gogoi who wanted to know about the number of Islamic fundamentalist outfits operating in the state.

All Muslim MLAs cutting across the party lines joined in the chorus against use of the word Islamic as a prefix to fundamentalist groups while the BJP MLA Ranjit Dutta and Independent MLA Bhuban Chandra Pegu and some AGP MLAS were seen opposing the Muslim MLAs’ stand.

As the debate generated heat, Chief Minister Gogoi rose to assure the House that his government would not differentiate Islamic militancy or Hindu militancy while tackling terror. Intervening, Health Minister Dr Himanta Bishwa Sharma said it was not appropriate to refer to terrorist outfits after religions, community, ethnicity, but the government was not going to abstain from using the word ‘Islamic’ in case the name of a terror group had the word in its nomenclature.

The debate started as soon as Cabinet minister Rockybul Hussain in reply to the question informed the House that that several Islamic fundamental groups were active in Assam, which included ISI operatives, HuJI, Harkat-ul-Mujaheedin (HuM) and the Muslim United Liberation Tiger of Assam (MULTA).

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Cong hits back at Sushma over remarks on Rahul
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 14
Senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj’s remarks on young Congress MPs, specifically Nehru-Gandhi scion Rahul Gandhi, saw an indignant Congress today hitting back at the Opposition party.

Swaraj’s reported remarks, describing Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi and other young MPs of the party as “gorre chittey chikne chupdey” (fair and chocolate faced) with whom even the media was enamoured with, had party spokesman Manish Tewari breathing fire and asking the senior BJP leader to mind her words

Referring to the statement of the BJP Deputy Leader in Lok Sabha at a function of BJP youth wing where the other Nehru-Gandhi scion Varun Gandhi was also present, Tewari promised that if the BJP persisted with such remarks the Congress would be willing to “meet them more than half-way”. “Such remarks are reflective of a political party badly defeated,” he stressed..

Swaraj reportedly said: “Congress first plasters a city with posters and hoardings of its leaders. Then it takes these chocolate faces to the city. Obviously glamour has its own attraction among the youth and they join the party”.

Asking the BJP to refrain from using such language, Tewari said the choice of words used by the senior BJP leader was highly objectionable. “What she said and meant we understand. Her choice of words was absolutely gutter,” he said.

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Drought-like situation in Bihar
Sanjay Singh
Tribune News Service

Patna, July 14
The state of Bihar, synonymous with perennial floods, is facing a drought-like situation this time. Due to 50 per cent deficient rainfall, the farmers of this agro-based state are finding it difficult to maintain the paddy saplings awaiting transplantation.

The canal system of irrigation is totally defunct in major parts of the state. A majority of the state tube wells are also non-functional for one reason or another.

With the power situation in rural areas equally grim, majority of the farmers depend on diesel power for irrigation purpose. In anticipation of the drought-like situation, the state government had announced to provide a cash subsidy of Rs 15 per litre on the purchase of diesel to farmers for irrigation purposes about two weeks ago. With the monsoon failing to meet its date even in July, the state administration on Monday chalked out a contingency plan to meet the crisis.

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River dispute
Karuna seeks Centre’s intervention
Tribune News Service

Chennai, July 14
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi today demanded Centre's intervention to stop the Andhra Pradesh government from going ahead with the construction of a dam across Palar river as the petition filed against the project was pending in the Supreme Court.

Replying to the Opposition's demand to stop the construction of a dam, Karunanidhi said it was shocking to know that the work had began even as the case was pending in the Supreme Court. He said no decision could be taken in a meeting held on July 26 between the officials of the two states as the Ministry of Forest and Environment did not give permission to do so.

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ID card duplication must end: Nilekani
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, July 14
Nandan Nilekani, appointed as Unique Identification Authority of India (UIAI) chairman, yesterday said the UIAI would create a centralised databank of citizens with a nation-wide network.

Talking to reporters at the residence of Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyuarappa, Nilekani said the existing identification systems had been unable to address the problem of duplications. “Duplications lead to frauds”, Nilekani, co-founder and former co-chairman of software giant Infosys, said.

“The key issue before us is to avoid duplication and confirm that a person is really the one who he claims himself to be. We shall use biometric capabilities like fingerprints for identification, and give every citizen a unique identification number”, Nilekani said.

Asked about the purported benefits of the initiative (pertaining to national security and government’s welfare schemes), the former software czar said the UIAI’s objective was confined to “creating an identity system”.

“It is going to be an infrastructure. The value addition will come later. Government and private establishments can make use of the identification numbers when required”, Nilekani said.

“For instance, if Karnataka government wants to draw up a list of public distribution system beneficiaries, the identification numbers can be used to avoid duplication”, Nilekani said.

On whether he has set up a timeframe for completion of the project, Nilekani said, “let me find an office first”. He said he would soon formally join as the chairperson of the UIAI.

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Uproar in MP assembly over virginity tests

Bhopal, July 14
The state Assembly today witnessed unruly scenes, including exchange of allegations between the members of the ruling BJP and main opposition Congress, over the issue of alleged virginity tests of brides during a state-sponsored mass marriage in Shahdol district.

The issue was raised in the House during the zero hour through an adjournment motion moved by Choudhary Rakesh Singh, Kalpana Parulekar, Arif Aqueel and others, all Congress members. In his submission, Singh said it was a serious matter that such an incident had come to light when the House was going on. Normalcy was restored only after Speaker Ishwardas Rohani invited the Congress members to come to his chamber to decide on the manner in which the issue would be discussed in the House.

Meanwhile, the National Commission for Women has found the state government report into the incident as “unsatisfactory” and decided to probe into the matter itself. “The report submitted by the Shahdol district administration is not satisfactory,” NCW Chairperson Girija Vyas said outside Parliament. She said a five-member team of the commission would study the execution of the scheme. — PTI

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Montek: Monsoon situation improving

New Delhi, July 14
Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia has today said the monsoon situation is improving in most parts of the country. "Government is concerned over the delay in monsoons," Ahluwalia said here on the sidelines of a CII-organised summit on infrastructure.

"Monsoons has hit in most of the parts of the country, but still not in the North-West region. It is a matter of continuing concern for us," he added. However, the Plan panel deputy chief expressed hope that there would be a recovery in the ‘base’ of monsoon in July.

Asked whether the Agriculture Ministry has prepared a contingency plan to face the situation he said, "I am certain that the Agriculture Ministry is looking at the same." — PTI

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Curfew along B’desh border
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, July 14
Dusk-to-dawn curfew has been clamped along the Dhubri sector of India-Bangladesh border in Assam from 6 pm to 6 am to check the menace of cattle smuggling to the neighbouring country through the unfenced river portion of the border.

A cabinet minister in Assam, Rockybul Hussain today informed that imposition of curfew along the Dhubri sector of India-Bangladesh border was one of the measures that had been taken to mount vigil against unabated cattle smuggling dodging the Border Security Force (BSF) personnel manning the frontier.

Specific raids were being carried out by the Assam police to nab smugglers and seize cattle brought to the district for smuggling across the border to Bangladesh where there was a big market.

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Now, mishap at Mumbai Metro site

Mumbai, July 14
A metallic structure supporting main concrete pillars at the city’s under-construction first Metro line collapsed in the northwest suburb of Sakineka following gusty winds.

No one was injured in the incident which took place at 1130 hours last night when work was going on at the construction site of Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar metro rail.

“The metallic pillar erected to support main pillars of the metro route came down last night. No body was injured in the incident,” Amitabh Gupta, Additional Police Commissioner, told PTI. KP Maheshwari, Director of Mumbai Metro One, the consortium building the metro line, said. Work has resumed at the site. “We are going to conduct an inquiry into why the structure collapsed and come out with a report,” he said. — PTI

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Flu scare shuts Google office
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, July 14
The incidence of swine flu took an alarming turn in Hyderabad today with the first case of ‘cluster formation’ being reported in which a software professional who had returned from the United States tested positive for the virus. He is said to have infected his roommates and colleagues as well.

Meanwhile, Internet search engine Google, which has 2,000 employees at its development center here, has declared a two-day holiday there to enable its staff to get tested for swine flu. Over a hundred employees have already been screened at the Government Chest Hospital.

So far Andhra Pradesh has reported 31 swine flu cases. 20 patients have been discharged while 11 are still undergoing treatment at the hospital.

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BRIEFLY

Haryana IAS officer is defence secy
New Delhi:
Haryana cadre IAS officer Pradeep Kumar has been appointed as the defence secretary. He will assume charge on the superannuation of the present incumbent Vijay Singh on July 31. A 1972 batch officer and presently working as secretary, defence production, Pradeep Kumar is a graduate in electrical engineering from Delhi IIT. — TNS

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