|N A T I O N|
S. D. Sharmas
BJP to stick to NDA agenda
Prime Minister A. B. Vajpayee consoling Vimla Sharma wife of former President Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma, after paying homage to former President at his residence in New Delhi on Monday. PTI photo
Hijackings shadow on BJP
Rajya Sabha poll on Jan 20
NCC cadet for millennium
Haryana Cong stands up in unison
Incident shouldnt affect
Phalodi limps back to normalcy
Defence Ministry Y2K compliant
S. D. Sharmas
NEW DELHI, Dec 27 Former President, Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma, who passed away yesterday, will be cremated here tomorrow near Rajghat.
The funeral procession of Dr Sharma will begin at 11.55 a.m. from his residence at the Safdarjang road and expected to reach the cremation site at 12.20 p.m.
The procession will pass through India Gate, Tilak Marg, the ITO crossings and Rajghat, Additional Commissioner of Police (Security), Mr R.K. Sharma said.
The government today announced that there would be no official entertainment during the seven-day state mourning as a mark of respect to former President who died last night.
During the seven-day mourning beginning from today till January 2, 2000, the national flag would be flown at half mast on all government buildings throughout the country, an official release said.
Touching scenes were witnessed today at the residence of former President Shankar Dayal Sharma as a steady stream of mourners filed past his body with floral wreaths.
It was a poignant moment when Congress President Sonia Gandhi hugged a sobbing Vimla Sharma, wife of the former President, and consoled her and other members of the bereaved family.
Vice-President Krishan Kant, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, several of his Cabinet colleagues, top brass of the three defence forces, and leaders of various political parties visited Dr Sharmas residence.
Meanwhile, the Haryana Government has decided to observe a week-long state mourning from today till January 2 as a mark of respect to the former President.
According to a report from Chennai, Tamil Nadu Governor M. Fathima Beevi expressed extreme grief over the former Presidents death and said in a message to his wife that Dr Sharma had distinguished himself with exemplary service to the nation and the people.
"His memory will remain among the people for years and be a source of strength and inspiration," she said.
Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi described Dr Sharma as one of the leading Gandhians and an embodiment of love and affection and discipline.
Condolence messages have also poured in from Goa Chief Minister Francisco Sardinha, Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, Assam Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu, Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.
Haryana Governor Mahabir Prasad, Karnataka Governor V. S. Ramadevi, Andhra Pradesh Governor C Rangarajan, Meghalaya Governor M.M. Jacob, Gujarat Governor Sunder Singh Bhandari, Madhya Pradesh Governor Dr Bhai Mahavir have expressed deep sorrow and grief over the demise of Dr Sharma.
Several political leaders including Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, CPM leader Harkishan Singh Surjeet, former Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal, have paid homage to Dr Sharma.
The All-India Peace Council has condoled the death of Dr Sharma while the Indian Sufi Samaj in a release said Dr Sharma was the embodiment of Hindu-Muslim unity.
The International Organisation for Industrial Spiritual and Cultural Advancement in a letter to Dr Sharmas wife Mrs Vimala Sharma has also expressed heartfelt condolences.
BJP to stick to NDA agenda
CHENNAI, Dec 27 To broaden the partys mass base, the national executive of BJP today proposed to submerge its entire agenda with the one adopted by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) before the last general elections and drop all contentious issues that it had been identified with so far.
The draft of the document of intent for the coming years, which will be known as the "Chennai declaration", has no mention of the three controversial issues the abrogation of Article 370, the Ayodhya issue and the uniform civil code.
The proposed Chennai declaration, which calls for "faithfully implementing the National Democratic Alliances common manifesto, will have to be ratified by the national council of the party, during its two-day meeting beginning tomorrow.
The BJP spokesperson Mr M. Venkaiah Naidu, sought to justify the move by saying that the BJP had secured the popular mandate for sticking with the NDA common manifesto and there was no reason to deviate from it.
Highlighting its role as the leader of the NDA, the draft document says "We have an obligation to the people of India to demonstrate that contrary to the Congress Partys motivated propaganda, a coalition government can not only be stable but also fulfills their aspirations".
"This calls for a scrupulous adherence to the dharma of coalition, along with a firm realisation that the era of coalitions is here to stay....As the leader of the NDA, it is the paramount responsibility of the BJP to ensure that there is neither dilution nor any deviation from the common agenda. Each and every activist of the party must fully understand that the BJP has no agenda other than the common agenda of the NDA."
Identifying the tasks before the party, the document has proposed that mindful of its new role and responsibilities as a governing party, the BJP should inculcate among all its activists and members an attitude of finding solutions rather than merely focussing on problems.
The main message of the proposed Chennai declaration is "let us re-dedicate ourselves to the BJPs commitment to value-based politics, broaden the partys mass base, and make it an effective instrument to deliver good governance."
The new mantra for the party for the next century will be "development and more development" and to achieve this there was a need for a new mind set and a new work culture.
According to the proposed declaration the need for giving a new interpretation to the ideology of the party has arisen in the light of the changing needs of new situations and challenges that have to be reviewed from time to time.
The draft declaration also speaks about the need for the BJP, as the principal pole of Indian politics, to give India a new political culture.
The draft declaration also talks about the tasks before the government and the people.
The national executive of the BJP also went through several constitutional amendments to the party constitution suggested by the Jana Krishnamoorti committee. The proposals include increasing the term of the President of the party to three years from the present two, fix a one year term for the President, and set up a coordination committee to coordinate matters between the government and the party.
The recommendations of
the national executive will be taken up for ratification
at a special meeting of the national council fixed for
tomorrow evening. This special session will only be open
to elected members.
Series of security lapses responsible
MUMBAI, Dec 27 (UNI) Former National Security Guards (NSG) chief Ramdeo Tyagi today said that the hijack of Indian Airlines airbus was a result of a series of security lapses.
"Security has not failed at a particular point and in fact a series of security lapses has resulted in the hijack of the aircraft", Mr Tyagi told UNI here when asked what could have been the reasons behind the hijack of the aircraft on Friday when it was on its way from Kathmandu to New Delhi.
"Various functionaries have failed at various places", Mr Tyagi regretted and said that every airline should have its own securitymen at the airports from where they operate. "How could this happen", he said, reacting to media reports that one person, who is believed to be among the five hijackers, be issued five passes.
Mr Tyagi, who has been the former Mumbai Police Commissioner, also said that as per media reports four of the hijackers boarded directly into the Indian Airlines aircraft after alighting from a Pia aeroplane. "This shows that there has been a series of security lapses - and not just one," he said.
The highly-decorated officer also stressed on the need to upgrade security at the airports and said that advanced machines needs to be installed. "Seven simple security devices are either absent in several airports across the country or they are not functioning at such times," he regretted. "More money needs to be spent in such major aspects of security," he said, adding, "Commitment levels also needs to be more."
Mr Tyagi, a former NSG
chief which has an anti-hijack squad, when asked whether
a commando operation could help at this stage, said,
"The decision has to be taken by the Crisis
Management Group (CMG) and the Prime Minister. We have
specially trained commandos for such purposes and they
are highly competent. These commandos are drawn from
police, para-military forces and military, he said, and
they undergo rigorous training," he reminded.
Hijacking not to affect tourism
NEW DELHI, Dec 27 (PTI) The Indian Tourism industry today suggested the introduction of visas for those travelling from Nepal to India in the wake of the hijacking of the IA flight but ruled out any significant impact of the incident on the flow of tourists to this country.
With no visas required for Indians and Nepalese moving across the border, it was easy for foreigners from neighbouring countries to get bookings under assumed Indian nationality, Indian Association of Tour Operators said.
"In the larger interest of the countrys security, Indians and Nepalese should require valid passports to cross the border," IATO President Subhash Goyal said even as passengers of the hijacked flight continued their ordeal for the fourth day today.
While tourist traffic between India and Nepal had been affected following the cancellation of all Indian Airlines flights to Kathmandu, Mr Goyal said there had been no cancellations by foreign tourists bound for India following the hijacking.
"The incident will definitely have some adverse effect on tourism but I think the international media has recognised that terrorism is a worldwide phenomenon and not confined only to India," he said.
Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham) Secretary General E.N. Murthy said some foreign tourists might be discouraged from coming to India but the overall impact would depend on how quickly the problem gets resolved.
The Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) Secretary General S. Suri said his association did not expect any slowdown in the number of tourists visiting the country as a result of the hijacking.
"It is not relevant as far as foreign tourists are concerned. At present, there is a fall in the number of tourists travelling due to the Y2K problem but the number will pick up after the first week of January despite this incident," he said.
Mr Goyal said the long term impact would depend on the travel advisories issued by western countries after the first week of January when the holiday season was over.
Mr Suri said while security provided at Indian airports was adequate it was a question of enforcement of rules.
"When an incident like this happens, security is tightened for one or two months after which it again slackens," Mr Goyal said suggesting posting of commandos on all flights similar to that provided in Air Lanka flights.
"We feel that India should have a crisis management force, not in the hands of politicians but professionals who can handle such an incident," he added.
The last two weeks of
the year coupled with millennium eve packages is the
busiest period for hotels when they expect maximum rush
and the hijacking could prove a dampner for the entire
Hijackings shadow on BJP executive
CHENNAI, Dec 27 The hijacking of the Indian Airlines flight to Afghanistan cast its shadow on the three-day National Executive and Council sessions of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) here with the top leadership, including the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, and other senior Cabinet Ministers skipping the meetings to remain in the Capital.
A proposed public meeting, which was to be addressed by the Prime Minister and was to be attended by all leaders of the National Democratic Alliance in Tamil Nadu at the Marina beach here tomorrow evening was also cancelled today as a fallout of the hijack drama.
Apart from the Prime Minister, the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, and the External Affairs Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh, could not make it to the meeting.
The death of a former President, Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma and two senior BJP functionaries, Mr Krishan Lal Sharma and Mr Rajendra Sharma, also contributed to the gloomy beginning of the National Executive session at the Chettinad Vidya Asharam.
The hijack of the Indian Airlines flight from Kathmandu found reference in the inaugural address of the BJP President, Mr Kushabhau Thakre, and later the National Executive adopted a resolution on the entire episode.
Mr Thakre in his opening remarks said the hijacking of the Indian Airlines flight did not take place due to any security lapses in India. "It shows how those in the terrorist movement are bent upon achieving their political ends and how they seek to blackmail the society", he said.
Saying that violence and violent methods were no way of solving social and political problems, Mr Thakre said India had great resilience to emerge from such crisis. "Those who resort to such foul means can never espouse any moral cause",he added.
He said the world as a whole should realise that violent methods are not the legitimate means to fight social and political battles.
The resolution adopted by the National Executive put the blame for the hijacking on Pakistan saying the latest episode was part of Pakistans continuing proxy war against India.
The resolution said "the BJP strongly condemns the heinous act of taking innocent passengers as hostages and subjecting them to cruel physical and mental torture. The entire sequence of the hijack- related events makes its clear that it is a well-planned exercise conceived, planned and executed by the enemies of India."
It said Pakistans pivotal role in it was evident from the main demand of the hijackers, which was the release of Maulavi Azhar, a top leader of the Pakistan-based terrorist group, Harkut-ul-Ansar. He is a Pakistani national who is in Indian captivity since 1994 for his close links with the separatist movement in Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistans ISI had masterminded several terrorist acts since 1994 to secure his release, the resolution said.
The National Executive "unreservedly" endorsed the Prime Ministers resolve that the security of the hijacked passengers would be given top most priority.
"The country is
faced with a very complex and difficult challenge and the
BJP urged people to remain calm and united behind the
governments efforts to resolve it successfully in
safeguarding Indias security", it said.
Rajya Sabha poll on Jan 20
NEW DELHI, Dec 27 (UNI) Elections to eight Rajya Sabha seats, including four by-elections, will be held on January 20, 2000, the Election Commission announced here today.
According to an announcement by the commission, the notification for the elections would be issued on January 3. The seats for which regular biennial elections are being held are three in Delhi and one in Sikkim. By-elections will be held for one seat each in Karnataka and Jammu and Kashmir and two in Tamil Nadu.
Of the three Rajya Sabha seats from Delhi, two are held by Mr O.P. Kohli and Mr K.R. Malkani, whose term will expire on January 27, 2000. The third seat was held by Prof V.K. Malhotra, whose term also would have ended on January 27, 2000. But he got elected to the Lok Sabha on October 6, 1999.
One more regular vacancy in the upper house is due to arise on February 23, 2000, on the retirement of Mr Karma Tazing Topden from Sikkim.
The elections for these four seats would be held for a regular six-year term, Commission Secretary K.R. Prasad said.
However, vacancies have also been caused in the upper house due to the resignation by Mr S.M. Krishna (Karnataka), Mr Karan Singh (Jammu and Kashmir) and Mr R.K. Kumar and Mr T.M. Venkatachalam (both Tamil Nadu).
By-elections would be held for these four seats also on January 20, 2000.
The term of the Karnataka seat would be till April 9, 2002, Jammu and Kashmir till November 29, 2002, and Tamil Nadu till April 2, 2002.
While the notification by the President for elections to these eight seats would be issued on January 3, 2000, the last date for making nominations would be January 10. The date for the scrutiny of nominations would be January 11 and the last date for the withdrawal of candidature would be January 13, 2000.
Elections to the eight seats would be completed by January 22.
Mr Prasad said that as per the existing practice of the commission, upheld by the Delhi High Court, the three seats from Delhi will be filled by holding three separate biennial elections to fill one seat each.
This practice had been challenged by Mr A.K. Walia of the Congress, who had contended that all three vacancies should be filled by holding a common election as the poll to the Rajya Sabha were held under the system of proportional representation.
The Delhi High Court
had, however, upheld the Election Commissions stand
and ruled that: "We are of the view that once the
seats have been divided into three categories from the
inception, the respondents (EC) were right in holding
separate elections for each category".
NCC cadet for millennium
NEW DELHI, Dec 27 Under Officer Tila Whista of 60 Assam Girls Battalion, NCC, Guwahati, leaves tomorrow to participate in the millennium celebrations at Chicago, USA.
The celebrations are scheduled for one week up to January 4, 2000. The visit is at the invitation of the Mayor of the City of Chicago, Mr Richard M Daley.
One of the
Chicagos major goals for the new millennium is to
foster better communication and understanding of the
world. It is in this spirit that the city of Chicago has
invited a representative of every country to celebrate
New Years Eve with Mayor Richard M Delay. In
addition to the New Year Eve celebration, the visit will
consist of a three-day itinerary which will include sight
seeing tours of Chicagos major tourist attractions,
meals and entertainment.
Haryana Cong stands up in unison
NEW DELHI, Dec 27 Two days after his nomination as a permanent invitee of the Congress Working Committee, former Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Bhajan Lal, today indirectly set the ball rolling for his partys campaign in the forthcoming Assembly elections in the state.
Though his original plan for a tea party had to be aborted in view of the demise of former President Shankar Dayal Sharma, the impromptu condolence meeting turned out to be an occasion for the usually warring factions of the Congress in Haryana to stand up in unison.
Except for Mr Birender Singh, who is understood to have been absent due to a personal bereavement, all important leaders of the state unit of the Congress PCC Chief, Mr Bhupender Singh Hooda, Mr Harpal Singh, Mr Chiranji Lal Sharma, Mr Sultan Singh, Mr Shamsher Singh Surjewala, Col Ram Singh, Mr Tara Singh, Mr Jai Prakash, Mr K.R. Punia, Rao Birender Singh and Mr Ramji Lal were present in the lawns of 7-B Janpath, the bungalow which Mr Bhajan Lal has not yet vacated despite the last verdict of the Lok Sabha elections at Karnal.
The central leadership of the party also responded warmly to his attempt to bring together all sections of the party in Haryana. The presence of Mrs Ambika Soni, Mr Moti Lal Vora, Mrs Mohsina Kidwai and Mr Janardhan Dwivedi bore testimony to this.
According to sources, Mr
Bhajan Lal had intended this to be a "unity
meeting". However, the agenda had to be changed due
to Dr Shankar Dayal Sharmas demise. Observers,
however, feel that the purpose behind the exercise was
well served due to the large gathering.
Incident shouldnt affect ties: Nepal
NEW DELHI, Dec 27 (PTI) Nepal today said that the hijack incident should not affect the bilateral ties between New Delhi and Kathmandu saying "a serious and difficult situation such as this calls for a sober and mature assessment.
Relations between the two neighbours are very deep and extensive and "any incident no matter how difficult must not be allowed to affect the strength of bilateral relations between the two countries, the Royal Nepalese Embassy said in a press release here.
Reacting to press reports, the embassy said while the Nepalese King had condemned the act of hijacking and terrorism and appealed to all concerned to extend cooperation for the safety and rescue of all passengers and crew members, Nepalese Prime Minister Krishna Prasad Bhattarai had spoken to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee expressing Nepals anguish at the incident.
"A serious and difficult situation such as this calls for a sober and mature assessment and close consultations and actions based on mutual understanding between the two governments, it said.
While a high-level
inquiry had been ordered into all aspects related to this
incident, including the need to strengthen the security
system at the airport, the Nepalese government had also
taken precautionary steps and suspended several officials
working at the airport "without waiting for the
findings of the commission, it said.
Phalodi limps back to normalcy
JAIPUR, Dec 27 (PTI) The indefinite curfew was further relaxed for seven hours today in Phalodi in Jodhpur district with the improvement in the law and order situation in the town which was gripped by communal violence, officials said.
Life returned to normal and markets remained open in the town where curfew was relaxed for five hours yesterday, the sixth day after it was imposed, following violence over the protest against release of bovine animals to be transported outside Rajasthan, the sources said.
The main accused in the killing of former state Shiv Sena chief Murlidhar Bohra during the violence last week was arrested yesterday. With this, the total number of arrests in connection with the incident has gone up to nine.
Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief Girija Vyas today accused the Shiv Sena and the RSS of fanning communal passion over the incident.
Quoting a report submitted by a factfinding committee of the PCC, headed by Deputy Chief Whip Mahesh Joshi, she said violence erupted in phalodi when local agitators freed scores of bovine animals, legally loaded in railway wagons, which led to protests by traders taking the animals to Bihar.
However, she conceded to
lapses on the part of the administration which failed to
understand the gravity of the situation and added for
this lapse the Superintendent of Police (SP), Jodhpur and
Deputy SP had been removed.
Defence Ministry Y2K compliant
NEW DELHI, Dec 27 (PTI) The Defence Ministry has become Y2K compliant with all types of weapon system, ground and airborne systems, communication, inventories, logistics and accounting systems becoming Y2K ready.
The defence production units are also in total readiness, an official press note here today.
It added that the entire ministry, including the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Coast Guard, the Defence Research and Development Organisation and defence PSUs had undertaken in-depth Y2K analysis, system testing, simulation and end to end testing inclusive of external interface environment parameters to ensure a smooth transition into the millennium.
misusing JD(U) symbol
CHENNAI: The Janata Dal (United) on Monday charged the Janata Dal (Secular) with "misusing" the symbol wheel allotted to it in Tamil Nadu and sought the Election Commissions intervention in the matter. In a letter to the EC, Janata Dal (U) state unit President A. Govindarajalu said instead of using the symbol tractor allotted to them, the JD(S) was "misusing" wheel as its symbol, thereby creating confusion among the party workers in the state. PTI
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