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Thursday, August 13, 1998
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Khel Ratan award for Sachin

NEW DELHI, Aug 12 (PTI) — Batting sensation Sachin Tendulkar has been bestowed with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, the highest recognition for achievement in sports in India, for the year 1997.

Veteran athletics coach Joginder Singh Saini has been named for the prestigious Dronacharya Award and 20 sportspersons, including cricketers Ajay Jadeja and Saurav Ganguly, have been selected for the Arjuna Award for 1997, it was officially announced here today.

The President will gave away the awards at a special function to be held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on August 29.

The 25-year-old Tendulkar who has installed himself as the world’s best batsman will receive a cheque for Rs 1 lakh, a scroll of honour and a plaque.

Tendulkar, who is already the joint record holder for most number of one-day centuries and became the second youngest India captain in 1996, is the fifth recipient of the award instituted in 1991-92.

Chess maestro Viswanathan Anand was the first awardee followed by former world billiards champion Geet Sethi (’92-93), sailors Homi D. Motivala and Pushpendra K. Garg (’93-94), top woman weightlifter Karnam Malleswari (’94-95) and tennis star Leander Paes (’96-97).

Joginder Singh Saini is the 13th recipient of the coveted award which carries a purse of Rs 75,000, Dronacharya’s statuette and a scroll. A respected coach of long standing and chief national coach till a couple of years back, Saini is the fourth athletic coach behind O.M. Nambiar (1985), Ilyas Babar (1994) and Karan Singh (1995) to be honoured.

Those selected for the Arjuna Award are: Reeth Abraham (athletics), Ashok Shandilya (billiards), Ajay Jadeja, Saurav Ganguly (both cricket), Brahmanand, S.K. Shankhwalkar (both football), Harmeet Hahlon (golf), Harmik Singh, Surinder Singh Sodhi (both hockey), Randhir Singh (kabaddi), Satendra Kumar, Shilpi Singh (both shooting), Misha Grewal (squash), Chetan P. Baboor (table tennis), Asif Ismail (tennis), Neelamsetti Lakshmi, Paramjit Sharma (both weightlifting), Jagdish Singh, Sanjay Kumar (both wrestling).

M. Mahadeva (athletics and cricket) and Naresh Kumar Sharma (shooting) who overcame their physical disabilities to excel in their respective fields receive the Arjuna Awards in the physically handicapped category.

Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, have bagged the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Trophy for the year 1996-97, the 13th occasion the award, set up in 1956-57, goes to the prestigious university in Punjab. The university will collect a cash award of Rs 1 lakh, the trophy and its replica.

Panjab University (Chandigarh) and Delhi University have won the second and third positions and will be presented with Rs 50,000 and Rs 25,000 respectively.

The list of Arjuna awardees comprises a few figures past their playing days and others in the prime of their career.

Reeth Abraham, former international long jumper and heptathlete in the 1980s is currently a coach. Brahmanand, former India goalkeeper of calibre who ended his career years back, gets a belated recognition. Yesteryear hockey stars Harmik Singh, skipper at the 1972 Munich Olympics, and Surinder Singh Sodhi, a member of the 1980 Moscow Olympics gold winning squad who led India in the 1981 Bombay World Cup, also end a long wait.

But the award should be a great source of encouragement for Satendra Kumar, the 23-year-old pistol shooter belonging to the Navy who is among medal prospects at the Commonwealth and Asian Games this year. Junior woman shooter Shilpi Singh is excelling in air pistol.

Misha Grewal was a top woman player second only to Bhuvaneswari Kumari during her reign as undisputed queen of Indian squash.

Current national table tennis champion Chetan Baboor and former tennis champion and Davis Cup team member Asif Ismail also find a place among the awardees.

Superheavy freestyle grappler Jagdish Singh, with the Punjab Police, won the silver in the 1992 Asian meet and the bronze in the 1997 edition among his international achievements.

But Sanjay Singh is a government choice as both the Wrestling Federation of India and the Indian Olympic Association have not recommended his name, according to WFI president G.S. Mander. A Commonwealth champion, Sanjay Singh had raised much dust by going on fast and moving the court against the WFI demanding that his name be put up for the award.back


Congress waiting for govt to fall
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Aug 12 — As uncertainty crept in over the fate of the five-month-old Atal Behari Vajpayee government following the threat of withdrawal of support by the AIADMK, the Congress stated it was keeping a close watch on political developments.

The Congress, which does not want to be perceived as having triggered a political crisis, today claimed that some party leaders were in touch with the AIADMK.

"As a responsible political party, we are keeping a watch on the sequence of developments," the party spokesperson, Dr Gijra Vyas, said today.

Having stated that the party was ready to form a government in the event of collapse of the BJP-led coalition, the Congress preferred to remain a spectator.

Dr Vyas said that officially there was no contact with the AIADMK but some leaders have been in touch with the political party in Tamil Nadu, which threatened to review support to the ruling coalition at the Centre over the Cauvery water issue.

The Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, continued to hold informal discussions with senior party leaders and Congress Working Committee members on the latest political situation.

Party sources said that while some CWC members preferred to join the fray in formation of an alternate government another section advised that the time was not yet ripe for the Congress to strike.

The Congress leadership is likely to summon a meeting of the CWC at a short notice tomorrow in the event of the AIADMK carrying out its threat, the sources said.

Much would depend on the outcome of the meeting of the AIADMK and its allies scheduled to be held at Chennai tomorrow.

Many Congress members were of the opinion that the AIADMK supremo Ms Jayalalitha may take a strong stand specially in the light of the fact that even as Chief Minister, she had gone on hunger strike over the issue.

GUWAHATI (PTI): The Congress will "step in" if the AIADMK withdraws support and the Vajpayee government falls "for which there is every possibility," senior Congress leader Rajesh Pilot said here today.

"According to my information, the AIADMK is going to withdraw support after tomorrow’s crucial meeting convened by Jayalalitha," Congress Working Committee (CWC) member, Mr Pilot told PTI.

"In that case do you think that the Congress will keep quiet? we will definitely step in", Mr Pilot said.

Earlier, at a press conference, he said Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was "silent" on the Srikrishna Commission report on communal riots in Mumbai in 1992-93 and said "it is sad that the government had sidelined the report which amounts to attacking the judiciary".

"The Prime Minister’s silence on it is intriguing," Mr Pilot said alleging that there was a "move to shake the basic democratic values."

Attacking the Prafulla Kumar Mahanta government in Assam, the former union minister said that they had "failed" on all fronts and the "failure" to contain insurgency was due to "lack of any transparent policy" on the matter.

"The Bodo accord is null and void and the economy was crumbling and that is why we have demanded President’s rule in the state," he said.

Mr Pilot, who was here to attend the state Youth Congress convention which ended yesterday, said he supported the Assam Government’s demand for central reimbursement for security-related expenditure in the state in line with Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab.

Former Lok Sabha Speaker P.A. Sangma said the North-East MPs forum had been formed under his chairmanship to adopt a common approach to the problems of the region and raise them in Parliament. A 10-member executive of the forum has been constituted with three members from Assam.

The forum had submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister demanding implementation of the special package of Rs 7300 crore for the North-East as announced by former PM H.D. Deve Gowda.

The memorandum also demanded spending of 10 per cent of the budget allocation of each ministry for the North-East, reimbursement of security-related expenditure by the Centre and reorganisation of the North Eastern Council, Mr Sangma said adding that the Prime Minister had assured him that he would consider the demands and implement them.

Assam Pradesh Congress Committee President Tarun Gogoi held the CBI responsible for the Governor not according sanction to prosecute Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta in the multi-crore LOC scam.

"It is surprising that the Governor refused permission. But the CBI should be responsible for their approaching the Governor to prosecute the Chief Minister. If there was no prima facie case why did the CBI approach the Governor at all," he said.

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