|N A T I O N|
Timing of poll crucial
Chandresh Kumari Mahila Cong chief
Congress may have pact
Pak lawyers honoured
SC upholds order against Haryana
Ex-minister quizzed in bank scam
Demonstration against setting up
Timing of poll crucial
NEW DELHI, April 30 The timing of the next general election has suddenly become a subject of debate with the BJP and its allies demanding an early poll while those on the other end of the political spectrum suggesting a delay.
The Election Commission has not indicated what is in its mind and has called a meeting of all political parties on Monday to elicit views ahead of its decision.
The conduct of the elections is a gigantic exercise for the commission considering the fact that the strength of the electorate is expected to cross the previous provisional mark of 60.50 crore.
The Chief Election Commissioner, Dr M.S. Gill, is on record stating that the EC was duty bound to constitute the new Lok Sabha by October 22. As per the constitutional requirement the House should meet within six months of its last sitting which in this case was April 22.
Dr Gill said the EC had already initiated the process of summary revision of the electoral rolls. The exercise was to update and incorporate those who have attained 18 years of age on January 1, 1999. The process would be completed by the third week of July.
Certain political parties are of the view that the summary revision of the rolls should not come in the way of the holding of early elections since the country cannot be expected to function under a caretaker government for a long time.
The argument by parties supporting the BJP and its allies is based on the assumption that parties on the other side of the political divide are pressing for elections around September or little later.
Election Commission officials are of the view that once the process of revision is been set in motion, it will be difficult to suspend it. There can be some 30 lakh to 40 lakh persons who have become eligible to vote.
For instance during the 1996 poll, the strength of the electorate was 59.25 crore while in 1998 it rose up to 60.53 as per provisional figures.
According to the noted lawyer and former Additional Solicitor General, Mr Ashwani Kumar, with the revision of electoral rolls having already been initiated it is not likely to be suspended by the Election Commission under its Constitutional power unless an irrefutable argument based on exigencies of situation compels such a course of action.
"On the other hand, it will be totally incongruous for the Election Commission to deny a large number of eligible voters the right to vote, a right which is the duty of the Election Commission to uphold. The equality of the situation and the legal position tilts in favour of the postponement of the poll till after the revision of the electoral rolls," Mr Kumar who is also a member of the AICC said.
On the other hand, senior Supreme Court lawyer Mr N.M. Ghatate, said legally the elections can be held on the basis of the existing electoral rolls and that the revision was an ongoing exercise.
"Morally people who become eligible can seek to be given a chance to vote but legally the Election Commission can go ahead," Mr Ghatate, who is also a member of the BJPs national executive said.
He said the primary reason is that the country cannot be expected to function under a caretaker government for long especially when decisions have to be taken in view of international commitments like the World Trade Organisation and the September deadline to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
Mr Ghatate, said international obligations and commitments have to be met and a caretaker government cannot be expected to take decisions though there is nothing in the Constitution to describe a caretaker government.
Another constitutional expert and former AICC General Secretary, Mr Devendra Dwivedi, says the attitude of the BJP is an attempt to influence the decision especially when the process of decision making is on in the Election Commission.
While the debate on the point continues, what is, perhaps, buried is the sheer logistics involved in the conduct of general elections.
According to sources in the commission experience indicates that over two to three months are required to mobilise 45 lakh personnel to supervise the eight lakh polling booths across the country.
A majority of the poll personnel are drawn from the teaching community. Apart from it, the use of schools and college buildings as polling stations is common.
The poll schedule is drawn up after consulting the Centre and the state governments. It involves massive deployment of the police and the central police forces to ensure the smooth conduct of elections.
While drawing up the schedule the EC has to take into consideration climatic conditions, festivals apart from the availability of both poll personnel and the security forces.
Yet another aspect that can be considered this time is the possibility of conducting elections to nine state assemblies whose tenure is due to expire between September this year and March next year.
Chandresh Kumari Mahila Cong chief
NEW DELHI, April 30 Mrs Chandresh Kumari, Rajya Sabha MP from Himachal Pradesh, has been appointed President of the All-India Mahila Congress.
Mrs Kumari succeeds Mrs Ambika Soni who was appointed party's General Secretary earlier this year. The announcement of the appointment was made by Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad at the AICC headquarters. Mrs Kumari was also present.
Mrs Kumari has earlier held the position of Joint Secretary of the AICC during Rajiv Gandhi's tenure.
Mr Azad said the Congress President had also approved the appointment of Mr Rajni Patil, a former minister in the Maharashtra Government, as president of the state unit of the Mahila Congress.
Youth leaders Tanveer Akhtar and Syed Muzaffar Hussain were appointed presidents of the Bihar and Maharashtra state units of the Indian Youth Congress (IYC).
The appointments, made by the national executive of the IYC, will be with immediate effect, an IYC press note said.
Congress may have pact with RJD
PATNA, April 30 (PTI) After a troubled relationship with the ruling RJD in Bihar, the state Congress is now inclined to have an electoral understanding with Mr Laloo Prasad Yadavs party if it was endorsed by the Congress high command.
The Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC), leaders, who had been critical of their partys support to the RJD ministry and protested the CWCs decision to oppose imposition of Presidents Rule in Bihar, appear reconciled to the possibility of the Congress going in for an electoral agreement with the RJD.
RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadavs recent meeting with Congress President Sonia Gandhi in Delhi has tended to give meat to speculations about a possible RJD-Congress pact.
BPCC President Sadanand Singh says "we prefer to go alone in the coming elections in Bihar. But if the party high command decides to have an understanding with the RJD, we will accept it happily".
Political observers say the RJD and the Congress may work out a joint strategy, instead of a total alliance, under which the Congress will independently contest in constituencies where the RJD and the BJP-Samata combine are major players, thereby seeking to eat into the latters vote-bank and help the RJD.
For the record, however, RJD spokesman Shakeel Ahmed Khan says "we want consolidation of secular votes against communal and fascist forces... we will prefer complete adjustments with the Congress and the Left parties".
The CPI and the CPM in Bihar, which have been campaigning against the "corrupt and ineffective" Rabri Devi ministry and demanded its resignation following the massacres of Dalits, may also arrive at some understanding with the RJD falling in line with the suggestion of the central leadership of the two communist parties.
"Revival of the Left alliance with the RJD may lead to tremendous electoral gains," a senior Bihar CPI leader says.
The CPM is likely to take a decision on electoral understanding with the RJD when its central committee meets in Delhi on May 7 and 8. The CPIs decision is also expected early next month.
The BJP-Samata combine,
on the other hand, is exploring the possibilities of
reaching "a sort of adjustment" with Mr Ram
Vilas Paswan of the Janata Dal and Mr Anand Mohan, the
lone expelled Rashtriya Janata Party, member in the
dissolved Lok Sabha, keeping an eye on votes of Dalits
NEW DELHI, April 30 Former AICC General Secretary Devendra Nath Dwivedi today criticised the BJP-led coalition for having brought a serious setback to the country on every conceivable front.
In a statement issued here, Mr Dwivedi said the BJP-led government had weakened the broad national consensus that the country built over the past five decades on the fundamentals of body politic and basic policies in the key areas of policymaking such as economy, foreign affairs, social harmony and nation building.
Mr Dwivedi, a senior lawyer, charged the BJP with having adopted a cavalier attitude towards the Constitution. It had shown disrespect to the two Houses of Parliament, weakened the Cabinet system and misled the President.
He cited instances of misuse of constitutional power by the Vajpayee government in invoking Article 356 in a manner which has damaged the extraordinary constitutional power beyond repair.
He said the reluctance shown by the Vajpayee government in recommending dissolution of the Lok Sabha and the plea that the defeated government be invited afresh to form government has only weakened the nations political process.
The greatest disservice done by this government is to allow an open attack on the secular foundations of the Indian Republic that has led to the weakening of the secular ethos. This has shown Indian democracy in a poor light, he said.
Mr Dwivedi said while the Congress would go into the election campaign with supreme confidence and full faith in the maturity of the electorate, he said he hoped that the strategy to be finalised by the Working Committee would reflect the partys known policies, programmes and ideological commitments.
Stressing the need for stability, he said it did not mean a full five-year term or getting a clear majority, but meant good governance, stability of institutions, legitimacy and credibility of the government and its policies and faith in those who govern.
Mr Dwivedi also said
that secularism could not be an electoral issue since it
was a pre-requisite and pre-condition for survival of
democracy. Secularism is not a matter of strategy.
Nor can it be made an electoral ploy. It should be an
article of faith for all political parties, he
said, adding that he was confident that in the ensuing
General Election, the Congress would return to the
centrestage of national politics.
Fulbright scholarship for 42 Indians
NEW DELHI, April 30 (UNI) The United States Educational Foundation in India (USEFI) today announced that 42 Indian scholars and professionals from various fields have been selected for the prestigious Fulbright exchange grant for the academic year 1999-2000.
During their stay in the USA these persons will be affiliated to various universities and institutes of higher learning for completing their respective research. Teaching and training in such diverse fields such as American studies, business administration, intellectual property rights, information science, museum studies, puppetry, arts and culture management, communication technology, public health and drug abuse. During this period, 39 American scholars and professionals will be visiting India as part the Indo-U.S. exchange programme.
The USEFI has been
administering the Fulbright Exchange programme in India
since 1950 and among the alumni of this prestigious
programme are Dr C. Rangarajan, Dr Salim Ali, Prof. V.K.
Alagh, Mr Tejinder Khanna, Mr M.M. Jacob, Prof. A.M.
Khusro, Mr Girish Karnad and Rev. A. Delastic.
recognising the potential of the programme the Indian
Corporate sector and consortia of industry have joined
hands with the USEFI in co-sponsoring some fellowships.
Pak lawyers honoured
NEW DELHI, April 29 A four-member delegation of lawyers from Pakistan was honoured by the Delhi High Court Bar Association (DHCBA) at a special function here.
The delegation, headed by the Vice-Chairman of the Pakistan Bar Council, Mr Rana Ijaz Ahmed Khan, was welcomed by the Delhi High Court acting Chief Justice, Mr Devinder Gupta, and DHCBA representative Mr Amarjit Singh Chandihok.
SC upholds order against
NEW DELHI, April 30 While upholding the Punjab and Haryana High Courts judgement and order, setting aside the premature retirement order of the Haryana Government against Mr Ishwar Chand Jain, of the then Additional District and Sessions Judge, Jind, the Supreme Court has stressed on the need for a uniform system of inspection of subordinate courts by the high courts urging rationalisation of the system in view of conditions under which the courts at the grass-root level function.
The Bench comprising Mr Justice D P Wadhwa and Mr Justice N Santosh Hegde in their judgement observed that there should be some scope of self-assessment by the Judicial Officer concerned. We are informed that the first National Judicial Pay Commission is also looking into the matter.
The court also observed that the apex court had been dealing with appeals and petitions against premature retirement orders by Judicial Officers, as the same were made on the basis of inspection by high courts.
Ex-minister quizzed in bank scam case
MUMBAI, April 30 (PTI) Sleuths of the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the city police today interrogated former Social Welfare Minister of Maharashtra Baban Gholap for his alleged involvement in the Rs 4.5 crore Awami Bank scam.
Mr Gholap, who resigned recently after the Opposition charged him with receiving kickbacks in connection with deposits of various state-owned corporations in the liquidated Awami Cooperative Bank, was questioned by the officials of the wing Deputy Commissioner of Police Dilip Srirao said.
When asked whether the former minister has been arrested, Mr Srirao said, Mr Gholap was questioned by the officials and investigations in the case are on.
Mr Gholap had submitted his resignation on April 26 after pressure mounted on him from top Sena leadership.
Earlier this week, the Mumbai High Court had directed the government to file a status report on the investigation conducted into charges levelled against the minister.
Officials of the EOW had
earlier submitted in the court of the Metropolitan
Magistrate, Girgaum, that Mr Gholap and his wife had
received Rs 40 lakh in kickbacks in the Awami Bank scam
but the minister had denied the charges.
Freedom fighter Shanti Kabir dead
NEW DELHI, April 30 (PTI) Shanti Kabir, noted freedom fighter and wife of former Union Minister Humayun Kabir, died here today after a short illness, family sources said.
She was 93.
She is survived by her son, Dr P.K. Kabir, a research physicist, and daughter Leila, a social worker.
Shanti Kabir, who took active part in the non-cooperation movement, was imprisoned four times during the freedom movement. After independence she took to social service.
Gurdwaras in Pak in bad state
NEW DELHI, April 30 Members of Peoples Solidarity demonstrated outside the Pakistan High Commission here today to protest against the appalling state of gurdwaras in that country and the appointment of a former Inter-Services Intelligence chief as head of the Pakistan Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PGPC).
The members of the PGPC lack standing and cannot be expected to assert themselves. And why has General Javed Nasir, who has proved his incapability in the matter of management of gurdwaras as chief of the Pakistan Waqf Board, been invested with the chairmanship of the PGPC. He has no credentials. Or is it because he once headed your ISI?, the memorandum submitted by Peoples Solidarity to the Pakistan High Commission stated.
Essential repairs need to be carried out to about 130 historical gurdwaras in Pakistan, the memorandum said, adding that the daily routine of prayers was not being observed. The gurdwara buildings were in a sad state of disrepair, the walls of many were crumbling and small commercial establishments had encroached on gurdwara premises.
And in some cases cattle and sheep were tied inside and in other the courtyards and compounds were being used for drying dung cakes in the sun. The vast landed properties of these gurdwaras stood alienated with local cultivators cornering all the produce and keeping sale proceeds thereof for their personal use, the memorandum said.
We had expected that your such religious inclinations would translate itself into understanding of other faiths and would move you into respecting the sentiments of other religious communities. It now appears that you are only serious about Islamisation of all segments of Pakistani society and that you have no inclination to understand the concerns of the Sikh community. Your previous profession of support for the Sikh community rings hollow, the memorandum said.
The Peoples Solidarity memorandum urged the Pakistan Government to hand over control of all gurdwaras in Pakistan to the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, Amritsar. It is only that body which can undo the damage that your government and its predecessor have systematically done to the Sikh shrines in Pakistan, it goes on to say.
Sikhs had hoped the
Pakistan Government would have divested the Waqf Board of
the charge of upkeep of gurdwaras in Pakistan and ensure
that speedy action be taken for removal of encroachments
and restoration of alienated land besides granting
permission to devout Sikhs to undertake the holy task of
rebuilding the damaged gurdwaras and restoring religious
tradition and practices therein, the memorandum added.
|Father kills two sons,
KOCHI: A 42-year-old man allegedly drowned his one-and-a-half-year-old twin sons and later committed suicide by hanging himself at Mattancherry, near here. The bodies of the kids were found inside the water tank of the house by their mother on Thursday, the police said. PTI
10-year RI for two foreigners
kidnapped in Tripura
5 killed in road
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