|Sunday, January 30, 2000,
Constitution: TDP for all-party
Court acquits Advani after 18
Support to ADMK only for
Karmapa must be allowed to stay:
CPM flays Gupta on Ayodhya
Curtain comes down on celebrations
Deepa Mehtas film to be
Rehabilitate leprosy-hit: PM
Ex-ED Dy Director gets
Dhaka-Agartala bus service from
Marxist shadow over book fair
Spell out steps to curb terrorism:
3 arrested for attacking cops
Views on labelling of non-veg
NEW DELHI, Jan 29 (PTI, UNI) The Telegu Desam Party (TDP), a major constituent of the ruling NDA, today endorsed the move to review the Constitution but said an all-party meeting be convened to decide the terms of reference of such a panel.
The government should take all political parties into confidence and decide on the terms of reference and the grey areas where the review is needed, TDP spokesman C. Ramachandraiah said here.
He said it would be better to have elected representatives in the review committee which could be assisted by experts from other fields.
Stating that the TDP supremo, Mr N. Chandrababu Naidu, had originally suggested a review of the Constitution even before the BJP mooted the idea, Mr Ramachandraiah, who is also a Rajya Sabha member, said it would be worthwhile to go into areas such as Article 356 relating to the imposition of the Presidents rule and providing more financial autonomy to states.
He said those who were opposing the review committee were doing a disservice to the nation.
The BJP today strongly defended the governments decision to set up a panel to review the Constitution and termed as unwarranted the Congress and Left parties criticism against such a move.
The Constitution has stood the test of time and what is being proposed is a mere study and review so as to make it an effective instrument for speeding up equitable socio-economic development, party General Secretary M. Venkaiah Naidu told reporters here.
Lashing out at the Congress and the Left parties for their shrill criticism of the government on the move, the BJP leader said the provision for the review of the Constitution was allowed in the Constitution itself.
Participating in debates in the Constituent Assembly Baba Saheb Ambedkar, chief architect of the Constitution, had himself argued forcefully for the right of future generations to amend the Constitution, Mr Naidu said.
HYDERABAD: Union Minister of State for Urban Development B. Dattatreya on Saturday denied there was any difference of opinion between the President and the Prime Minister over the proposal to review the Constitution.
Addressing a press conference here, Mr Dattatreya alleged that some political parties such as the Congress and the CPI were misleading the people by giving an impression that the Vajpayee government was trying to change the basic principles of the Constitution to suit the BJP.
He hailed the Prime Ministers speech on the issue by stating that it had opened a public debate to elicit the views of the public and intellectuals on it.
He said the 79 amendments made to the Constitution during the past 50 years itself show that it (Constitution) needs some changes and incorporation of new measures to prevent the misuse of certain provisions such as Article 356 (dealing with imposition of the Presidents rule) and improve the overall polity in the country.
Mr Dattatreya said there was no need to create unseemly controversy over the issue since nothing can be enacted in Parliament without the cooperation of opposition parties.
Meanwhile, the Loktantrik Samajwadi Party on Saturday joined the major opposition parties in condemning the Central Governments move to go ahead with plans to review the Constitution despite the Presidents advice to the contrary.
At a press conference here, party President Raghu Thakur termed the Vajpayee governments step as anti-democratic, anti-constitutional and a step towards dictatorship. He called for a nationwide mass movement to thwart the move snowballing into a controversy in the light of Dr K.R. Narayanans address at the Republic Day function on January 27.
Referring to amendments
made in the Constitution during the past 50 years, Mr
Thakur said these had now become a part of the
Constitution. He scoffed at Mr Vajpayees reported
remark that the Constitution like an old fort needed
repair saying that the Central Government was indeed
engaged in destruction of the spirit of the Constitution.
acquits Advani after 18 years
NEW DELHI, Jan 29 After standing trial for nearly 18 years in a criminal case, the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, has finally been acquitted by a Gwalior court, his lawyer and a former BJP MP from Chandigarh, Mr Satyapal Jain, said here today.
The case related to a complaint filed by Mr Surya Prakash Johri in 1982 in which he alleged that Mr Advani while applying for being enrolled as a voter in Lashkar assembly constituency in Gwalior in March 1982, did not inform the Electoral Officer in Gwalior that he was already registered as a voter in Gujarat. The complainant pleaded that this amounted to giving a false declaration in the court and should be tried under the Representation of the People Act, 1950 along with the Indian Penal Code.
The defence put up by Mr Advani was that when he applied to be registered as a voter in Gwalior, he got his name deleted from Gujarat and therefore no offence could be made out against him.
Dismissing the case against Mr Advani on Friday, the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Gwalior, Mr A.K. Pandey held that the prosecution has failed to prove any offence against Mr Advani.
The judge also dismissed an application moved by the complainant for adjourning the pronouncement of the order to any other date, so that he could go to the High Court against the judgement of the District judge.
Mr Jain said the Home Minister was present when the judge read out the order. Mr Advani said he was happy that the case had come to an end after 18-long-year of trial and his faith in the judiciary had been reaffirmed.
ADMK only for byelections
CHENNAI, Jan 29 It is a shock treatment that the leader of the Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC), Mr G.K. Moopanar, has chosen to give to the DMK boss and the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Mr M. Karunanidhi, announcing his support for the AIADMK in the forthcoming byelections in the state. Though Mr Karunanidhi reacted to the development with more regret than anger and declared that we will face any whirlwind, it is obvious that Mr Moopanars action give a new dimension to the Tamil Nadu politics and an unexpected but welcome boost to the AIADMK. Mr Moopanar has only compounded the blow with his explanation that his partys decision was intended to strengthen secular forces and fight the anti-people stance of the Tamil Nadu Government and the Centre.
That was indeed too much for Mr Karunanidhi to swallow. He termed Mr Moopanars application of anti-people to his government as very harsh and said the people knew whether our government is pro-people or anti-people. He was confident that the DMK would emerge unscathed from any whirlwind.
Mr Moopanars support to the AIADMK, endorsed by the TMC allies in the Progressive Peoples Front, was sweet music indeed for the AIADMK leader, Ms Jayalalitha. I am very happy about the development. It is good augury for the next assembly elections (due next year), she said. It may be a bit too early for Ms Jayalalitha to celebrate the latest development since Mr Moopanar has clarified that the decision to support the AIADMK was only for the byelection. He said the third front would continue to exist and the situation would be reviewed before the assembly elections.
Mr Moopanars decision marks a significant deviation from his past declaration that his party is against both communalism and corruption. That was his swan song before the previous general election when he broke his alliance with the DMK after the latter had joined the National Democratic Alliance headed by the BJP and stayed away from the AIADMK-Congress alliance. He has now chosen to cat his words, but in policies consistency is often the casualty.
The TMC-led Progressive Peoples Front considers the byelections as an opportunity to highlight the anti-people stance of both the Centre and the Tamil Nadu Government and the double standards adopted by the NDA to hand over the sovereignty of the nation to communal and fundamentalist forces.
There had been
speculation over Mr Moopanars possible moves in the
context of his frequent meetings with the Congress
President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, but Mr Moopanar, a reticent
and enigmatic person, has so far given no clue about his
future relations with the Congress. But his support for
the AIADMK in the byelections leaves the option open at a
later date to join a Congress-AIADMK alliance on the eve
of the state assembly elections next year. But as they
say, a week is a long time in politics, and there are
still several months to go for the big electoral battle.
The elections for three assembly seats are scheduled to
be held on February 17.
BHUBANESWAR, Jan 29 (PTI) Tibetan spiritual head the Dalai Lama has said it will be a terrible mistake on the part of the Indian Government, both in respect of the countrys image as well as in substance, if Karmapa Urgyen Trinley Dorje, who escaped from Tibet, was not allowed to stay in the country.
In a letter to former Lok Sabha Speaker Rabi Ray, the Dalai Lama, however, said he understood to some extent the cautious stand of the Indian Government on this issue.
The 17th Karmapa escaped from Tibet with his sister Ngodup Palzam, a nun, and five others and reached India on January 5.
The Dalai Lama, in his letter dated January 18, also thanked Mr Ray for his stand on the issue of granting asylum to the Karmapa. The copy of the letter was released by Mr Ray to the press today.
Stating that he was convinced that the 14-year-old Dorje had escaped from Tibet because he did not find it possible to pursue his religious studies and practices satisfactorily there, the Dalai Lama said he had clear evidence that contrary to superficial appearances, there was much restriction and suppression of religious freedom in Tibet.
Meanwhile, the escape of the monk from Tibet to India has triggered off a controversy among the three living Regents of Sikkims influential Rumtek monastery with the majority supporting him.
The Dalai Lama said in a letter to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee he had mentioned that the Karmapas conduct in the past clearly indicated a strong character and correct stand on issues relating to his religious practice and welfare of Tibetan people.
Gupta on Ayodhya
NEW DELHI, Jan 29 The CPM today took strong exception to the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr Ram Prakash Guptas remarks on the issue of construction of a Ram Temple in Ayodhya and asked the non-BJP parties in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to explain Such blatantly communal and disruptive statements from a BJP Chief Minister.
In a statement, the CPM politburo said the UP Chief Minister has announced that he would allow construction of the temple at the site where Babri Masjid stood as long as the law and order was not affected. Mr Gupta has further asserted that he will permit the VHP to construct the temple, provided they took this criminal step in a peaceful manner.
Such outrageous statements flout all decisions of the judiciary and violate the constitutional responsibility of the state government to prevent any illegal activity at the site in Ayohdya, the statement said.
A Chief Minister who violates elementary norms of running an administration cannot continue in office, the party said.
The Chief Minister is
repeatedly making such statements knowing fully well that
the BJP-RSS combine is only waiting for an opportune time
to build the temple at the site where the Masjid stood,
the CPM said.
NEW DELHI, Jan 29 (PTI) A martial music extravaganza with a soul-stirring tribute to Kargil heroes marked the Beating Retreat ceremony here this evening, bringing the curtains down on the golden jubilee Republic Day celebrations.
President K.R. Narayanan, First Lady Usha Narayanan, Vice-President Krishan Kant and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee were among the VVIPs who witnessed the ceremonial paraphernalia of the Indian Armed Forces encompassing the finest of its musical traditions come alive on the majestic Vijay Chowk against the backdrop of a crimson sky.
Bedecked camels and horses lined the ramparts of North and South Blocks in stony silence as the mass bands, pipers and drummers marched in perfect rhythm up and down the Raisina Hill mesmerising the spectators with the rendition of patriotic numbers.
If Indian National Armys evergreen Kadam Kadam Badhaye Ja lifted ones spirits, many in the audience bowed in reverence as the military bands paid a musical tribute to the Kargil heroes with a quick march Veer Kargil and a slow march Mushkoh Valley, both specially composed by Major Nazir Hussain.
As many as 750 pipers
and drummers drawn from the Army, the Navy and the Air
Force kept the 1,000 strong audience, including members
of the diplomatic corps spellbound with 19 Hindi and six
VARANASI, Jan 29 (UNI) Celebrated film-maker Deepa Mehtas upcoming film Water is facing rough weather as an officer appointed by the government to monitor the shooting has asked for a Hindi version of the script and atleast 15 days time to study it.
It is not even clear so far whether the muhurat of the film the last in a trilogy of three element films after Fire and Earth has actually taken place or not.
While sources associated with the film unit said it was performed this morning with some shots of actress Shabana Azmi at a five-star hotel, the district administration maintained that only some puja was performed.
Liaison Officer for the film Krishna Murari, an official with Akashvani, said he had not been informed about the muhurat. He said he could not attend the shooting unless he got a Hindi version of the script.
According to Deepa Mehta, the actual shooting is scheduled from next week and the film would be completed in about two months. However, such a possibility looks remote and her confidence misplaced since there has been a storm of protest from right-wing Hindu groups and womens organisations against the film even before its muhurat shot.
The District Magistrate, Mr Alok Kumar, said the administration would not allow any shooting if the Liaison Officer was not present at the site. He said the administration had sent a detailed report to the state government about the protests against the film and he was awaiting a suitable direction.
The protesters, under the umbrella of Sanskar Bharati, have announced that they would not allow the shooting until the script is made public and the film-maker gets approval from the intelligentsia in this holy city.
NEW DELHI, Jan 29 The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, has appealed to citizens to reach out to leprosy patients and help them seek medical assistance.
In his message on the eve of the Anti-Leprosy Day, which is observed every year on the Martyrdom Day of the Father of the Nation, Mr Vajpayee made an appeal for social rehabilitation of leprosy patients.
Mr Vajpayee distributed relief material among persons suffering from leprosy at a function here today.
He said the government hopes to eliminate leprosy by the end of this year. He asked citizens to take a solemn pledge to combat leprosy and win the war against leprosy.
He said in the second modified leprosy elimination campaign which would be launched soon, health workers would carry out a door-to-door survey to identify persons with symptoms of leprosy. Such surveys would be carried out in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal where the incidence of leprosy was the highest.
The Prime Minister said leprosy could be easily cured and treatment was available free of cost.
He appealed to persons with symptoms of leprosy to visit the nearest hospital, community health centre, primary health centre or leprosy clinics run by the government and voluntary associations for a timely diagnosis and free medicines.
Sources in the Health Ministry said India carried 62 per cent of the global leprosy burden. The National Leprosy Control Programme began in 1955 and was revamped as the National Leprosy Eradication Programme in 1983. The objective of the NLEP was to achieve the global target of eliminating leprosy as a public health problem by the end of 2000.
According to statistics,
99 out of 490 districts had achieved the target and
another 224 districts were close to it. It was expected
that 19 states/ union territories would achieve the
target by the year-end while eight others (Chandigarh,
Delhi, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal
Pradesh and Daman and Diu, would achieve the target by
the end of 2002.
NEW DELHI, Jan 29 (PTI) A Delhi court today granted bail to former Enforcement Directorate (ED) Deputy Director Ashok Aggarwal, who is facing charges of bribery, extortion, forgery, wrongful confinement of some persons and misusing his official position.
Special Judge Ajit Bharihoke ordered his release on bail on a personal bond of Rs 2 lakh and two sureties of the like amount while directing him to appear in investigation as and when required.
The court also ordered Mr Aggarwal to refrain from contacting the witnesses and asked him not to leave the country without prior permission of the court.
In his fresh bail application, Mr Aggarwal had sought his release saying his earlier bail application was rejected on incorrect grounds.
Mr Bharihoke had on January 6 rejected Mr Aggarwals bail application mainly on the ground that he had clandestinely visited Singapore between February 10 and 14 last year and that he might flee if released.
However, the CBI today admitted that it had received a wrong message to this effect from Interpol in Singapore.
AGARTALA, Jan 29 (UNI) Bus services between Dhaka and Agartala will be launched on April 14, the Bengali New Years day.
This was stated by Tripura Industry and Commerce Minister Pabitra Kar while talking to reporters here yesterday. Union Minister of State for External Affairs Ajit Kumar Panja, who recently visited Dhaka and held meetings with the Bangladesh Prime Minister and External Affairs Minister, informed Mr Kar over telephone about his talks with the Bangladeshi leaders.
India and Bangladesh have agreed to introduce the Agartala-Dhaka bus service after the success of the Calcutta-Dhaka bus service, Mr Panja told him. Mr Kar requested him to make an-all out effort to start the proposed bus service from April 14.
He said he had met Mr Panja in New Delhi recently and reiterated the state governments request to introduce bus services between the state capital and Dhaka.
shadow over book fair
CALCUTTA, Jan 29 The Calcutta book fair, which is celebrating its silver jubilee this year, is now under the grip of the Marxist domination, though for so long the book fair had been considered to be purely a cultural fete of the Bengalis.
The eagerly-awaited book fair was inaugurated in the presence of the Chief Minister, Mr Jyoti Basu, on January 25 and opened to the public the following day with much fanfare. The fair will continue till February 6.
Militants threat to the Chief Ministers life had prompted the state administration to tighten security arrangement during his 30-minute stay at the fair venue. It evoked sharp criticism from book lovers.
Not only sniffer dogs and metal detectors had been deployed, special commandos were also there to protect Mr Jyoti Basu.
Guests, foreign dignitaries and other VIPs who were invited to grace the inauguration were apparently annoyed at the unnecessary harassment experienced by them.
The book fair president, Mr Prabir Kumar Mazumdar, offered no apology and the general secretary, Mr Kalyan Shah, justified the security arrangements for Mr Jyoti Basu since he had been on the hit list of the terrorists.
But even then, this did not explain the justification of the presence of Mr Basu at the opening ceremony.Mr Basu himself felt that his presence every time at the inauguration of the book fair was not necessary.
In fact, Mr Basu was unwilling to be present on the occasion. And accordingly, the book fair management had been communicated about it much earlier.
The Deputy Chief Minister, Mr Buddhadev Bhattacharya, who also holds the Information and Culture portfolio, attempted to bring Dr Amartya Sen for the inauguration ceremony. But Dr Sen declined the invitation.
Then an attempt was made to bring this years winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Gunter Grass, who lived in Calcutta in the past. But he told the organiser that he was unwell.
In the past, the inaugural function had been always been a glamorous occasion in the presence of personalities like Dr Suniti Kumar Chattopadhyya, Dr Muluk Raj Anand, Dr Raja Ramanna, Mr Mrinal Sen, Mr Richard Dockins, Mr Samsur Rahaman and Sheikh Hasina. Mr Jyoti Basu was an added attraction on all occasions as a special guest.
But on the silver jubilee function, the invitees list did not include any such person and the Chief Minister had to be present to add glamour to the occasion. The fair was formally declared open by city sculptor Chintamoni Kar.
The book fair was started during Mr Siddhartha Rays regime in 1975-76 by a group of book sellers and publishers, sponsored by a prominent Bengali newspaper group. Since then, the fair has been an annual feature during winter and it had always drawn a large number of book lovers from various parts of the country and abroad.
But since the Left Front government came to power in 1977, attempts were made to hijack the book fair and now the Marxist-dominated state government is virtually in full control of this annual cultural event.
This year the fair has been dedicated in the name of Brazil, which is a new entrant in the fair. Almost all European countries and prominent Asian countries, including Bangladesh have regularly participate in the fair. Pakistan, however, has not taken part in the fair so far.
NEW DELHI, Jan 29 (PTI) The Congress today accused the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir Government of lacking a well-planned strategy to combat terrorism and asked the Central Government to inform the country about specific steps it intended to take to end terrorism in the state.
There seems to be
no coherence in the actions of the government of Jammu
and Kashmir. Nor is there a well-thought out policy
framework to maintain integrity of the state... India has
to counter and combat this threat effectively,
party spokesman Ajit Jogi said in a statement here.
arrested for attacking cops
NEW DELHI, Jan 29 Police personnel were attacked today by supporters of suspects who allegedly stabbed a student of Dayal Singh College.
When a Sub-Inspector of Lodhi Road police station, Mr Ulahas Giri, one head constable and two constables went to arrest the suspects, Surjeet Singh, Dharmender and Ishwar, at Chilla village in East Delhi where they reside, they were allegedly gharoed and beaten up, the police said.
labelling of non-veg foods sought
NEW DELHI, Jan 29 The government has issued a gazette notification inviting objections and suggestions on mandatory labelling of non-vegetarian food products and definition of such foods. The public can respond to the notification till March 5.
A press note issued here by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said the government proposes to identify non-vegetarian food products through a colour code.
According to the notification, non-vegetarian food is proposed to be defined as an article of food which contains meat of any origin, fish or egg as an ingredient. Such products will have a colour code on the package to enable consumers know what they are going to consume.
Mulayams son files papers
NSCN-IM not to
participate in poll
Woman whipped to
death by husband
stir enters 46th day
Punjab cop held
with Nepali currency
Haj quota hiked
by 4,000 seats
object explodes, kid hurt
destroyed by Army
6 injured in
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