|N A T I O N|
NCP for package deal
HVC stakes claim to berth
Left vows to work for
Action likely against ex-PMs on
population crosses 6 billion
Computers that can move tanks,
DSGMC poll: SAD to contest all
NCP for package deal
MUMBAI, Oct 12 (UNI, PTI) The dimming prospects of a Nationalist Congress Party-Congress Government in Maharashtra brightened today when the NCP decided to adopt a flexible stand on the issue of chief ministership and offered to consider a package deal for power sharing.
"The issue of the post of Chief Minister is negotiable and we are ready to talks on a package deal," NCP spokesperson Vasant Chavan said here. However, state NCP President and Leader of the Opposition in the State Legislative Council Chhagan Bhujbal said: "The post of Chief Minister, on which Congress is adamant, is not the only issue. Several larger issues need to be discussed."
The NCP would resume talks with the Congress once again tomorrow, he said and added that the seven issues chief ministership, deputy chief ministership, speakership, sharing of key portfolios, chairman of corporations, representation in gram panchayats and byelections also needed to be discussed extensively to facilitate the formation of a secular government.
Mr Chavan, while ruling out merger of the Congress and the breakaway NCP-led by former Defence Minister Sharad Pawar, also made it clear that there was no question of a split in the NCP. "The NCP is totally intact, and for that matter there is no question of a split even in the Congress."
To a query about the NCP going with the BJP as desired by former Chief Minister Sudhakarrao Naik and a section of other leaders, Mr Chavan said their views were "personal," but the decision would be collective.
Even, in yesterdays meeting presided over by the former Defence Minister, Mr Naik had said he would abide the collective decision of the party. "There is no possibility of a division in the NCP," Mr Chavan added.
The Congress said on Tuesday that the mandate in Maharashtra was for a secular government and being the largest single party it is to get the post of Chief Minister, a report from Delhi said.
The Congress had already offered the post of Deputy Chief Minister to the NCP, with which consultations were on, Congress spokesperson Kapil Sibal said.
He said people had given a clear mandate for a secular government. The Congress had 75 seats and NCP 58, he recalled.
Answering questions, he said the resignations by party office-bearers were their individual choices.The party had taken collective responsibility for the setback in the elections and had not blamed anyone for it, he said. No resignation has been accepted so far, he added.
Meanwhile resentment in the Congress camp is brewing over the appointment of former state minister Vilasrao Deshmukh as Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader, with a section of MLAs from Vidarbha favouring former Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) chief Ranjit Deshmukh for the post.
About 30 Congress MLAs from Vidarbha met at the Radio Club late last night at the invitation of former minister and MLA from Karanja, Babasaheb Dhabekar.
The MLAs were sore at the appointment of Vilasrao Deshmukh describing his nomination as undemocratic. Mr Ranjit Deshmukh told the UNI that in the selection of Vilasrao Deshmukh for the post, the party leadership had neglected the loyalty of persons belonging to the Vidarbha region.
When asked whether the group would join the Sena if their demand was not met, he said there was no such move yet, "We are with the Congress and will remain with it", he added.
As there was no response from Delhi, he would be meeting Congress President Sonia Gandhi to express the disappointment of the Vidarbha loyalists at the injustice done to them.
In another development a group of 11 legislators of smaller parties in the newly-constituted Maharashtra Assembly has decided to form a separate bloc and would discuss their future strategy at a meeting here, Samajwadi Party (SP) General Secretary Amar Singh said on Tuesday.
Mr Singh told reporters that filmstar-turned-politician Raj Babbar would be the observer for the meeting.
The group of 11 MLAs comprise five of the Peasants and Workers Party, and two each from the SP, the Janata Dal (Secular) and the CPM, he said, adding his party would be happy if the NCP, an ally of the SP, and the Congress struck an alliance to form the next government in the state keeping the Shiv Sena-BJP out of power.
India to tap global defence
NEW DELHI, Oct 12 Defence Minister, George Fernandes today said India was keen to take requisite steps to make access into the global defence market to increase its share in defence exports and offered to set up joint ventures and collaborations with various developed and developing countries to produce world class defence equipment.
Inaugurating the Defexpo India 99, the Defence Minister said though at present defence exports from India were "modest", international collaboration and joint ventures "which serve our national priorities and mutual interests of collaborating organisations", would be welcomed. "We hope to access a large share of the export market in the years to come," he said.
Both developed and developing countries could "source cost-effective goods and services from our defence production industry. Our universal selling point is the high degree of skill and relative lower costs of our technical manpower."
The presence of a significant number of foreign companies was a testimony to the opportunities that India offered for joint ventures, technology transfers and co-production facilities for export to Third World countries, the minister said.
A total of 194 exhibitors from all over the world are participating in the five-day event being jointly organised by the Department of Defence Production and Supplies and the Confederation of India Industry (CII). These include 117 overseas exhibitors and 77 domestic from both public and the private sector. This is the first such exhibition being organised in India.
Mr Fernandes said while the Ordnance Factories were playing a vital role in equipping the Armed Forces with weapons, ammunition, armoured and transport vehicles, clothing and general stores, defence public sector units were producing a large range of products which included radars, communication systems, warships and special vehicles.
Appreciating the role of the CII and the private enterprises which are participating in the exhibition, Mr Fernandes said, Indias defence infrastructure "is driven by a concern for autonomy and indigenisation". He, however said India recognised the inevitability of technological interdependence in todays world and had forged mutually beneficial arrangements in a wide range of products and services with several friendly countries.
He said the fact that the Defexpo was being organised by his Ministry in collaboration with the CII was a promising indicator of increasing interaction between the government and the industry.
Tracing the history of Indias defence production, he said the first ordnance factory was established way back in 1801 at Cossipore near Calcutta. "We now have 39 ordnance factories, eight defence public sector units and a number of units in the private sector."
Among those present were the Cabinet Secretary, Mr Prabhat Kumar, Foreign Secretary K. Raghunath, Defence Production and Supplies Secretary Prabir Sengupta, Chief of Army Staff Gen V.P. Malik, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal A.Y. Tipnis and Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
The exhibit profile included missile and missile systems, howitzers and components, electronic warfare and rocket launching systems, explosives/detection systems, satellite and space technologies, NBC systems and equipment and many others.
The Defence Minister
also released the second edition of "Indian Defence
Products", a catalogue of Defence equipment,
published by the Department of Defence Production and
Supplies. The illustrated catalogue contains details of
an impressive range of defence products manufactured by
the Ordnance Factory Board, Defence Public Sector
Undertakings and selected private sector industries. The
catalogue is designed to promote Indias defence
export and make available in one place useful information
for prospective buyers from a number of friendly
HVC stakes claim to berth
NEW DELHI, Oct 12 The Himachal Vikas Congress (HVC) today staked its claim for a berth in the Union Council of Ministers saying it wanted parity with other smaller parties.
Speaking to newspersons here, the HVC chief, Mr Sukh Ram said: "I will be happy if the HVC gets representation in the Union Cabinet, especially if other smaller parties are given a berth in the Council of Ministers".
Apart from the HVC which has one seat in the Lok Sabha, other NDA members with a similar number include the MGR ADMK, the Manipur Congress Party, the Sikkim Democratic Front, the Mizoram National Front, the PMK and one independent (Ms Maneka Gandhi).
The HVC leader said he had yet to talk to the Prime Minister on the composition of the Council of Ministers and as a member of the NDA his only concern was the stability of the NDA Government.
Describing the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, as the "captain" of the NDA, Mr Sukh Ram, said the Prime Minister should be given full freedom in choosing his Council of Ministers and the HVC would make no demand that would create problems for Mr Vajpayee.
On the BJP President, Mr Kushabhau Thakres statement that Mr Sukhram was the partys "compulsion", Mr Sukh Ram said Mr Thakres stand was blown out of proportion. He said he had talked to Mr Thakre and was told that he did not have any such feeling towards the HVC.
He pointed out that the BJPs tie-up with the HVC had taken place after the party had won peoples verdict on several allegations levelled against him.
The former Communications Minister, who is facing corruption charges on several counts during his term as a Union Minister, said: "Once again the verdict of the peoples court has vindicated my stand that the allegations hurled upon me by certain conspirators in the Congress party are nothing but a campaign to malign me and my family".
Left vows to work for third
NEW DELHI, Oct 12 Promising to work for a third front, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM) has blamed the Congress for the success of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Briefing newspersons about the two-day-long Politburo meeting followed by the Central Committee meeting, the CPM General Secretary, Mr Harkishan Singh Surjeeet, said another major factor for the success of the NDA was that the campaign was conducted in such a manner as if the contest was between Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee and Mrs Sonia Gandhi.
The alternative to both the BJP and the Congress was to work for the third front, Mr Surjeet said, adding the formation of the third front would be achieved through "developing united struggle and movement".
The CPI has also promised to work for the formation of the third front as the recently-held Lok Sabha elections have decisively rejected the two-party system.
The CPI, which also held its two-day Central Committee meeting last week, also said that there was enough political space for the formation of the third front as evident from the results of the recently held Lok Sabha polls.
"It is not a ready-made situation and a struggle will be necessary for the formation of a third front", the CPI National Secretary, Mr D. Raja, told TNS, adding that "we will have to work hard for it".
Earlier, Mr Surjeet said that the CPM Central Committee had "reiterated the need to re-forge the unity of the Left, democratic and secular forces so as to present an effective third alternative".
results have debunked the talk of the emergence of a
two-party system. The secular non-Congress which fought
the BJP have a substantial number of seats in Parliament.
Developing united struggles and movements will facilitate
a regrouping of these forces", Mr Surjeet said.
Action likely against ex-PMs on plane dues
NEW DELHI, Oct 12 (PTI) The Centre today told the Delhi High Court that it would take legal action for recovery of dues amounting to Rs 13.57 crore from four former Prime Ministers for use of Indian Air Force planes for private purposes, if they failed to make the payment.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) S.B. Jaisinghani in a supplementary affidavit submitted before a Division Bench comprising Justice Arun Kumar and Justice D.K. Jain said that "law will have to take its own course and as proposed, legal action will be initiated....In the event of dues not being paid by the concerned parties/political personalities."
The ASG said the action was "deferred" because of the Lok Sabha elections as the government did not want to take any "coercive" measures after announcement of polls as it would have been construed in different manner in different quarters.
To a specific query by the Bench about the legal course of action, Mr Jaisinghani said the government might file suit for recovery of the money.
The court, however, declined the ASGs request to issue notices to the "defaulters" saying if the government was not able to recover the money, then it would see what action should be taken.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking recovery of the dues from late Premier Rajiv Gandhi, former Prime Ministers Chandra Shekhar, P.V. Narasimha Rao and H.D. Deve Gowda for using the IAF planes for personal purposes.
World population crosses 6
NEW DELHI, Oct 12 The world population crossed the six billion mark today. Announcing this, the UN Population Fund called for reviving the debate on population and development issues.
According to the UNFPA, the day of six billion holds a special meaning for India which will have one billion people of its own on May 11, 2000.
Addressing newspersons at the UN Hall here today, Mr Michael Vlassoff said that almost 70 million people were being added globally every year and this growth was concentrated in countries that are already struggling the hardest to meet their peoples needs.
Member of Parliament and UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador, Shabana Azmi said that 350 million women around the world did not have access to a range of safe and effective family planning methods. She said that since coercive methods of family planning failed in the past, the new policy should make men and women equal partners in decisions related to reproductive health issues.
Shabana said that the government should come out with a population policy and take reproductive health care measures to stabilise the growing population.
She drew attention to the success stories in Tamil Nadu and Kerala where the reproductive and child health policy has been implemented. "You need to have access to safe methods of contraception and a mix of contraceptive services, ensure safe motherhood, to bring down infant mortality and empower women in their decision making abilities. All this is there in the RCH programme in India since 1997. If we would merely implement the programme, we would be successful."
Computers that can move tanks,
New Delhi, Oct 12 Computers designed specifically for moving tanks, fighter planes, submarines and other defence related uses were on display at the five day "Defexpo99" which began here today.
Compaq, the global leader in personal computer manufacturing, displayed its "rugged" computers designed specifically for defence use and extreme conditions.
The ruggedised computers can be used effectively in the most demanding environments such as moving tanks, fighter planes, submarines, underground mines and in extreme conditions, the Director-Products, Compaq India, Mr Kapil Jain, said, adding that these computers offer a number of options to customers to achieve a unified view of the battlefield across all levels of command.
These computers had the capability or altering defence and government messaging forever and carry a high level of shock endurance with application ready platforms that support secure, reliable messaging, he said.
Barnalas bag still untraced
NEW DELHI, Oct 12 The Delhi Police has not been able trace the bag containing documents of the former Union Minister for Food and Civil Supplies, Mr Surjeet Singh Barnala, which was stolen from the Chandigarh-bound Shatabdi Express at New Delhi Railway Station.
The Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime), Dr K.K. Paul, said a team has been sent to Dehra Dun as another bag found missing from the same train, was found abandoned there. He said a special team has been constituted to investigate the case and trace the bag.
The incident occurred on Sunday morning when Mr Barnala had to board the Shatabdi Express. The Officer on Special Duty (OSD) and Additional Personal Secretary of Mr Barnala reached the New Delhi Railway station before him. They reportedly placed all luggage on the racks above and got down from the train to wait for the minister.
DSGMC poll: SAD to contest all
NEW DELHI, Oct 12 The Shiromani Akali Dal (Delhi) will field candidates for all seats for the forthcoming general elections of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC).
HYDERABAD: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu on Monday signed the first file exempting college and school students from payment of tuition fees in the drought-affected regions in the state. He told newsmen here that all resources would be rationalised for the benefit of the common man. Fiscal targets would be fixed and after 30 days, all welfare schemes for the uplift of the poor and weaker sections would be implemented. Emphasis would be laid on poverty eradication, health and education. UNI
HC seeks list of cases
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