|Thursday, February 17, 2000,
Kant for better coverage of House
Exercise Vijay Chakra begins
Cong introduces secret ballot
Publish names of
Rao: JMM case motivated
Basu warns RSS, BJP on
Indo-French forum sets up group
Bishops flay P.A. Sangmas
Calvin makes Maneka see red
Kant for better coverage of House proceedings
NEW DELHI, Feb 15 (PTI) Media coverage of Parliament proceedings has been often perfunctory and casual and reflected rather poorly on its understanding of Parliaments functioning, Vice-President Krishan Kant said today.
"The coverage of Parliament proceedings in the media so often reflects rather poorly on its understanding of the procedures of parliamentary functioning or the import of what has been spoken on the floor", Kant said inaugurating a conference on "Parliament and the media: Building an effective relationship" here.
"The coverage is often perfunctory, casual and cursory. Even when debates are elaborately reported, the essence and the spirit of the debate is missing," he regretted.
An impression was growing among Parliamentarians that the media was interested only in reporting what was sensational, which often meant highlighting the "disorderly and unseemly conduct of some members and ignoring or downplaying the sober, serious and thoughtful contribution of the others", he said.
"When this happens day after day, week after week, the serious and sober members begin to feel dispirited", the Vice-President said.
Mr Kant said there was a change in the conduct of some members who, when they first entered Parliament, used to be serious and sober speakers, but after having been there for some years, turned almost into "rabble-rousers".
The members felt that as long as they concentrated merely on making a thoughtful contribution in a debate, the media took little notice of them because of which their constituencies kept complaining about their inactivity in Parliament. "But once they began creating scenes in the House, the media began taking prominent notice of them", the Vice-President said.
"Parliament and the media, the organised institutions of democracy, have to consciously tread the path of morality and values, which would be an inspiration for the rest of the community," he told the delegates from several countries and prominent media personalities.
Highlighting the importance of democracy, the Vice-President said: "It was natural for us to feel pained to see democratic institutions crushed under military boots in Pakistan, a fellow Commonwealth country."
The five-day conference is being jointly organised by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the Commonwealth Press Union, the Commonwealth Journalists Association and the Commonwealth Broadcasters Association along with the World Bank, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Parliament of India.
Speaking on the occasion, Lok Sabha Speaker G.M.C. Balayogi said the country could not visualise a healthy parliamentary democracy without a healthy media to sustain and support it.
Stating that the educative role of the print medium was being increasingly shared by the electronic medium, Balayogi said the telecasting of parliamentary proceedings and other political processes had added an important positive dimension to it.
Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker
P.M. Sayeed said the success of the polity in a
democratic state depended on effective Parliament and the
Press function. "We cannot imagine Parliament
without the Press and the Press without Parliament in a
democratic system", he said.
Exercise Vijay Chakra begins
SURATGARH (Rajasthan), Feb 15 After days of preparation, the Blue land forces finally launched a full frontal assault on the enemy, the Red land forces, late on Sunday night. Exercise Vijay Chakra was on full steam with an infantry division and an armoured brigade taking part in the mock battle scenario.
The scene of the operation is the harshly beautiful desert dunes near the dusty hamlet of Purbana Ki Dhani in Bikaner district. The scene is of frantic activity with the supporting arms of the main assault party establishing their lines of communication and strengthening the approach network, while the main force lies low and plans its next move to be executed in the dead of the night.
Overseeing all this is Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi, General Officer commanding-in-Chief, Western Command. As a Tribune team caught up with him at the village he was discussing the progress of the exercise and questioning officers why a particular defence had not been breached by the troops. He was consulting a detailed map which had been spread out on a T-72 tank.
Elaborating on the aims of the exercise, the General said the aim of the exercise was not to send any signal to the enemy but was an effort, albeit on a slightly larger scale, to bring the troops, both at the group and individual level, for training. Such exercises involved a lot of stage management and planning and an eye had to be kept on the availability of training grounds.
The traditional grounds were facing a lot of pressures and the crop season of the villagers had to be taken into account. Since a lot of space was needed for manoeuvres and other allied tasks the emphasis was that only those months should be chosen when the land was uncultivated.
Explaining the layout, he said the operations were spread over an area of more than 150 sq km and more than 20,000 personnel, guns, tanks, infantry combat vehicles and other allied weaponry was involved. In fact, this was as close one could come to the real thing. The only exception was that no live ammunition was being used. Otherwise, simulators were serving the purpose.
The exercise would also give an opportunity to the commanders to handle their commands in crises-like situations. It also served as a testing ground, execution and culmination of individual and collective planning for various strategies. There was a lot of difference in planning on paper and executing it on the field. It threw up a lot of surprises and gave an opportunity to everybody to observe and learn.
This time the air land battle concept was being used with a change in certain drills, procedures and a shift in concepts. The idea was to know the feasibility of the plans drawn up at various levels by them. It was also giving an opportunity to field test certain new equipments and gadgets.
General Oberoi said the Indian Air Force was playing a larger role. The aim was that both forces should work in close tandem and make optimum use of their resources to achieve the objective. They were carrying out sorties of fighter and bomber aircraft to soften the objective, enabling the ground forces to overcome enemy resistance. This way the air force too could test its own strategies and give inputs to the Army, enabling it to make certain modifications.
The Air Force was also helping the Army to make para drops and carry out heliborne assaults behind enemy lines. Such attacks were continuing, he added.
Commenting on the decision to allow the media to cover the exercise, he said the people wanted and should know more about the forces and this was an attempt to tell them that the Army was carrying out intensive training. "If in the process we attract suitable talent it is all for the better, he added in a lighter vein.
On the way back to Suratgarh the journey was slow and one could see long Army convoys heading to the exercise area carrying more men and material.
The exercise is now entering its last phase and would be completed by February 18, a senior officer revealed.
Tribune News Service adds from New Delhi: The exercise has evoked strong reaction from Pakistan with its top military brass labelling it as "unannounced Indian exercises near the Punjab border". Pakistan army spokesman, Maj-Gen Rashid Qureshi claimed that India had not informed Pakistan in advance about the exercises.
However, Army sources
here emphasised that the exercises were being held at the
command-level which did not entail providing advance
information on the hotline of the Director-Generals of
Military Operations (DGMOs) of both armies.
Cong introduces secret ballot
NEW DELHI, Feb 15 (PTI) In a major move to bring transparency in intra-party election process, the Congress has brought in for the first time the procedure of secret ballot in organisational polls at all levels except for primary units, and announced that election for the post of party president will be held on June 30.
Announcing the schedule, chairman of the partys Central Election Authority (CEA) Ram Niwas Mirdha told reporters the entire process would start from March 23 and be completed by July 3.
He said that in view of shortcomings in the election procedure earlier, which led to "tremendous resentment", the CEA had brought in secret ballot and would not allow the method of consensus adopted so far in party polls.
"We will not accept unanimity or consensus in the elections except for the primary units which could be chosen by show of hands," he said.
The date of notification for the party presidents election would be June 8 with the last date for filing nominations being June 15, scrutiny the next day and election, if necessary, on June 30. Counting of votes and declaration of results would be on July 3.
The elections of PCC
presidents and executive, AICC members and pradesh
election committee members will also be held on June 30.
Publish names of defaulters: CVC
MUMBAI, Feb 15 (PTI) The Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC), Mr N. Vittal, said today that the commission was in favour of banks publishing names of "wilful defaulters", whose repayments exceed Rs 25 lakh.
"We have already held talks with the RBI and solicited legal opinion on the issue, but the basic reason cited against this (publication of names) was a clause in the Manual on Banking Secrecy, which prohibits making certain banking matters public," Mr Vittal said after commissioning the wide area network (WAN) of the Union Bank of India here.
According to estimates "wilful defaulters" alone owe banks about Rs 11,000 crore of a total of Rs 51,000 crore as non-performing assets.
The banking sector was
facing competition the same way as the telecom monolith
had during the past three years due to technological
developments, he said.
Rao: JMM case motivated
NEW DELHI, Feb 15 (PTI) Former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao today told a special court trying the multi-crore JMM MPs bribery case that the case filed against him was "politically motivated" and denied any monetary inducement to save his minority government in 1993.
The former Prime Minister said this when Special Judge Ajit Bharihoke asked him "why this case is against you?".
Because of "political motivation and political pressure" some witnesses had "falsely" deposed against him in the case, he said.
The CBI had charged Rao and 10 others with bribing some MPs to buy their support against the July 28, 1993 no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha and as a sequel to the monetary transactions, the then minority Congress government led by him had survived the motion by 14 votes.
He said "in all the trials of strength, (his) government won the
vote confidently. The
government survived solely on Parliaments goodwill
and its performance. There was no effort whatsoever to
mobilise strength by any monetary inducement".
Basu warns RSS, BJP on Water
CALCUTTA, Feb 15 (UNI) The West Bengal Chief Minister Mr Jyoti Basu, today said his government would take strong action against the BJP, RSS and the Bajrang Dal if they tried to prevent film director Deepa Mehta and her unit from shooting film "Water" in the state.
"The police will firmly deal with it. If the BJP and the RSS try to disrupt the shooting in the state, we will counter them effectively, Mr Basu told reporters here.
Mr Basu had earlier welcomed Ms Mehtas unit for shooting in the state when actress Shabana Azmi talked to him over the phone for necessary permission.
The Deputy Chief Minister and Cultural Affairs Minister, Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, said his government would provide all help for the shooting of the film in the state.
He said his government
would not ask for the script for giving necessary
permission to shoot the film in the state. "We
dont want to go through the script. We believe in
freedom of expression and freedom of the
artists, he said.
Indo-French forum sets up
NEW DELHI, Feb 15 The Indo-French forum has appointed a seven-member working group comprising experts from both sides to strengthen cooperation in seven areas. The areas identified at the end of the fourth meeting of the forum are food processing, AIDS, tuberculosis, culture, water, information technology and media.
Briefing mediapersons at the end of the two-day long discussions, the Co-President of the forum, Mr Jean Francois Poncent said the experts appointed were members of the forum.
The Indian Co-President of the forum, Mr Ramakrishna Hegde, said the coordinators would prepare a report by the next meeting. He said the committee has had frank and cordial discussions with the President and the Minister of External Affairs on Monday. The committee members also called on the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee on Tuesday.
The next meeting of the joint forum is scheduled to take place in October in Paris followed by another meeting in India in February next year Mr Hegde said.
Sources in French embassy told to TNS that the coordinators appointed as experts are Mr Dhruv Soni of the Confederation of Indian Industries (Agro Food Processing), Mrs Barree Sinoussi (AIDS), Professor Talwar (TB), Mr Dupavillon (Culture) and Mr Dileep Padgaonkar (Media), besides others for water and IT.
Mr Claude Blanchemaison, ambassador of France to India told TNS here that the task of the forum was to initiate new things.
Replying to a question, Mr Poncent said the forum did not discuss the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. "On the other hand, we have discussed the civilian nuclear energy. Nobel Prize winner, Prof Cohen Tanuji has suggested that there is need for coordination in that field."
Mr Poncent said France
was keen to explore the possibility of Indo-French
cooperation in two the fields of information technology
and food processing. "I think the capacities of our
countries in the field of food processing and IT may be
underestimated. France is seen as having an image of
supplying luxury goods which we do not reject but this
does not adequately represent what the French economy is
all about. This image has to be corrected."
Bishops flay P.A. Sangmas
NEW DELHI, Feb 15 The storm over the inclusion of former Lok Sabha Speaker, Purno Agitok Sangma, in the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) today spread with the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) taking strong exception to the NDA governments plea that Mr Sangma has been selected as he is a "representative of the Christians".
Demanding that a meeting of the National Integration Council (NIC) be immediately called to discuss the circumstances under which the government had set up the CRC, the CBCI alleged that there was a political motive behind the move. On the issue of "Christian representative", the CBCI general secretary Oswald Gracias said, "Why this special favour to Christians? Or does it mean C.R. Irani, Abid Hussain and R.S. Sarkaria are representing Parsi, Muslim and Sikh communities respectively? And then, where are the representation for women?"
Alleging that the government has "malafide motives", Mr Gracias said, "one point is clear that the review is not for the betterment of the society. It is a political agenda".
He stated that letters had been written by the CBCI president, Mr Alan De Lastic, to the President and the Prime Minister seeking an immediate meeting of the NIC. "I ask you, does it augur well for the future? I ask you, does it add to the confidence of the people, especially of the minorities who look on the Constitution of India as the safeguard of their fundamental rights and liberties", the letter to the Prime Minister said.
Meanwhile, in an interview to Zee TV, Mr Sangma, who is the only politician nominated to the panel, said, "let me assure that I will be fair to the extent that I can be without carrying any political baggage". Asked why he has been included, he replied, "I guess it is because of my academic and professional capabilities".
Spokesman Venkiah Naidu
pointed out that it was the Congress in 1977 which had
set up a commission headed by Mr Swaran Singh for having
a "second look at the Constitution". He pointed
out that during Indira Gandhis regime, the Congress
had brought a new clause in Article 368 which said any
amendment of the Constitution could not be called into
question in any court of law.
Calvin makes Maneka see red
NEW DELHI, Feb 15 Animal rights activist and Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Maneka Gandhi has written to world famous designer Calvin Klein to withdraw this seasons snake skin collection and vow not to use any part of any animal.
In a letter to the New York-based designer, Mrs Gandhi has said although she has admired his refusal to include the skins of animals in his collection, she is shocked and immensely disappointed to learn that his latest collection includes snake skins. "Your prestigious name and elegant designs have helped to set a fur-free example to others in your field."
"The skin of a python, Mr Klein, is no less precious to the snake than fur is to the fox. How can you condemn the latter and profit from the former? she has asked.
Mrs Gandhi has said he may have sourced the skins from India where an illegal export trade thrives.
She has expressed
concern that the unnecessary and vicious slaughter causes
grave problems for Indias food supply. She has
pointed out that snakes control rats in the fields thus
saving tonnes of grain for human consumption.
Battle of legacies in Hinjili
HINJILI (Orissa), Feb 15 It is advantage Mr Navin Patnaik in Hinjili assembly constituency, where he is locked in a battle of legacy with the Congress rival and sitting legislator, Mr Udaynath Nayak.
The Union Minister for Mines and Minerals is making no bones about his being the son of legendary Biju Patnaik, but, then his opponent is no pushover.
Mr Nayak is riding high on the legacy of his father, former Minister Brundaban Nayak, who was one of the most eminent leaders of Ganjam district in southern Orissa. Mr Udaynath, foster son of Brundaban Nayak, is cashing on the popularity of his father, during whose time there was a lot of developmental work in the region.
He was elected twice to the state assembly from this constituency and is now seeking re-election for a third term. His opponents strong credentials notwithstanding, Mr Navin Patnaik has projected himself as the son of the soil, as Ganjam is the birthplace of his father.
Moreover, Mr Patnaik is making no bones about the BJP Central leaderships virtual endorsement of his candidature for the Chief Ministers post.
"Both are our sons. But then Navin has come to us for the first time to ask for assembly votes" a 60-year-old villager, Rukmani, in Hinjili said when asked who she would vote for in the assembly elections.
On Mr Patnaiks inability to communicate in Oriya, or for that matter read or write the language, the locals feel it would not be a major handicap. "He will have all the babus (bureaucrats) to help him" a BJD worker said.
During the Lok Sabha poll, Mr Navin Patnaik overcame the handicap by saying he would go to Parliament, where English and Hindi was spoken.
The Congress workers are seeking to make a big issue of Mr Patnaiks inability to speak the local language and are asking the electorate how do they expect a Chief Minister to function if he doesnt know Oriya?
Mr Patnaik is ignorant of the language as well as the states culture and problems, is the common refrain of the opposition.
The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is, however, leaving no stone unturned in ensuring the victory of Mr Patnaik and a large number of posters, carrying the photograph of Biju Patnaik, has come up in several places in the assembly segment.
Mr Patnaik, too, on his part has been talking about his fathers unfulfilled dreams and has promising to fulfil the same if elected.
Realising the immense popularity of Mr Patnaik in the region, the opposition has been harping on the poor visibility of the BJD candidate in the area.
Mr Nayak while claiming that he had remained with the people during the supercyclone, which hit the state late last year, claims that Mr Patnaik has done little for the assembly segment,even though he was a minister at the Centre and represented this constituency in the Lok Sabha.
The battle of legacies apart, the two main contenders in Hinjili have also been affected by the presence of rebels in their assembly constituency.
Mr Nayak faces opposition from the chairman of the Purushottampur block, Mr Nirmal Mohapatra, who failed to get a ticket from the Congress.
The Congress is, however, hoping that this factor would be negated because of the tussle between Mr Patnaik and his former right-hand man, Mr Bijoy Mahapatra, who was recently sacked from the BJD.
More than the Congress opponent, the BJD is worried about the Mahapatra factor.
The rebel leader gave a shock to the BJD camp when he last week visited Koraput and on his way back touched Mr Navin Patnaiks Aska parliamentary constituency.
Mr Mahapatra, who was expelled from the BJD and denied an opportunity to contest after Mr Patnaik withdrew his party ticket at the eleventh hour, campaigned for the official BJD nominees in some constituencies and in other shared the dais with rebel BJD candidates.
Mr Mahapatra has been refraining from launching a direct attack on Mr Patnaik and has given his unstinted support to the BJD.
The strategy, according to party insiders is that Mr Mahapatra hopes to garner support of a significant section of the party after the elections are over and make a bid to displace Mr Patnaik.
Mr Mahapatras strong point is that he was groomed by the late Biju Patnaik and has been at the forefront of anti-Congress politics since the seventies.
More than the Congress
candidate, Mr Patnaiks worry is Mr Mahapatras
gameplan. On his part, Mr Mahapatra has been telling the
media that Mr Navin Patnaik will win. He said he may have
been suspended from the BJD for six years but his main
aim was still to defeat the Congress.
27 in fray for Rajasthan byelections
JAIPUR, Feb 15 (PTI) Twentyseven candidates are in the fray for the February 17 Assembly byelections in six constituencies of Rajasthan as the ruling Congress and the opposition BJP candidates are witnessing neck and neck contests.
The electioneering for these six constituencies: Sadulpur, Mundawar, Raisinghnagar, Nimbahera, Asind and Aspur will end today, according to the Joint Chief Electoral Officer here.
As many as 8.89 lakh voters would exercise their franchise at 1,103 polling booths and the police had made elaborate security arrangements to conduct free and fair elections, he said.
These seats are lying vacant since six MLAs (five of the BJP and one of the Congress) got elected to the Lok Sabha last October.
The Congress is facing a serious threat from its rebel from Sadulpur where its candidate, Mr Ram Singh Punia, is taking on Mr Satish Punia, a BJP youth leader.
The Congress rebel, Mr Inder Singh Punia, and three Independents are also in the fray in Sadulpur.
Congress sources said efforts were being made to get the rebel retire.
There is a straight contest between Ms Raia Meena of the Congress and Mr Kanak Mal Katara of the BJP in Aspur, while in Asind Hangami, Mr M. Lal Mewara (Congress) is taking on Mr Ram Lal Gurjar (BJP). A Samajwadi Party candidate, Mr Rajendra Acharya, is also in the fray here.
In Nimbahera, the Congress candidate, Madhu Dadheech, is contesting against Mr Narayan Singh Jhala of the BJP. CPI candidate Chand Mal and two Independents are also in the fray.
Congress candidate Sohal Lal and BJP nominee Isar Ram are battling in Raisinghnagar from where a Rajasthan Vikas Party man, Mr Het Ram Meghwal, and an Independent are also contesting.
Mundawar is witnessing a
contest between Mr O.P. Yadav of the Congress and Mr
Dharm Pal Chaudhary of the BJP although BSP candidate
Bakhtawar Singh, Rashtriya Janata Dal nominee Bahadur
Singh and Samajwadi Party nominee Sheoraj Singh and two
Independents are also in the fray.
Nukkar seat: prestige issue for
DEOBAND (Saharanpur), Feb 15 The byelection in the Nukkar constituency in this district has become a question of prestige for all political parties. In fact, it is more so because of the traditional rivalry between the two leaders of Saharanpur Mr Rashid Masood of the Lok Dal led by Mr Ajit Singh and Ch Yashpal a Gurjar leader of the Congress.
Both the BSP and the Samajwadi Party are also in the fray and their candidates are also strongly placed. The Congress party seems to be at a disadvantageous position even though it has given the ticket to a Gurjar candidate.
The constituency sprawling along the banks of river Yamuna has a fair chunk of Muslims, Gurjars and Saini castes. There are very few Jat voters in the area. The Muslims and the Gurjars are the dominant castes.
As the election day (February 17) is drawing near, the campaigning has reached its crescendo. Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party who has been claiming supremacy amongst the Muslims so far has put up Ms Shagufta Khan as the party nominee. The BJP has left the seat for the Lok Tantrik Congress whose candidate Dr Sushil Kumar Chaudhary is working day and night to turn the tide in his favour. He is a Gurjar by caste and has kept this hopes high from his caste. Mr Naresh Aggarwal, leader of the Lok Tantrik Congress Party had already canvassed support for Dr Chaudhary who has been an old Congressman.
Ms Mayawati whose party had wrested the Saharanpur parliamentary seat in the last election has concentrated her hopes on the backward voters. She had addressed meetings in Gangoh town and other areas in support of her partys candidate Mr Shiv Kumar Saini.
However, the politician who is calling the shots in Mr Rashid Masood of the Lok Dal. The Lok Dal has put up Mr Pradeep Chaudhary. This seat was vacated after the death of Mr Pradeep Chaudharys father who was MLA from here. Mr Chaudhary also belongs to Gurjar caste. His father Kanwar Pal Gurjar had won this seat in 1989 and 1991 elections. During the present election, Mr Rashid Masood has been extensively campaigning in support of the Lok Dal candidate. Mr Masood has a very strong base amongst the Muslims, Gurjars, Banias and other castes also. The Congress has put up Mr Saheb Singh Gurjar. So far no leader of repute of the Congress has visited the area.
the BSP nor the BJP had even won this seat.
BHUBANESHWAR: The electoral battlefield in Orissa has its fair share of rajas and maharajas.
Hoping to cash in on their rich lineage and the peoples traditional loyalties, 13 contestants belonging to the royal families are in the race for the two-phased Assembly elections in the state on February 17 and 22.
The Biju Janata Dal and the BJP combine have together fielded eight candidates of blue blood, the Congress two and three others are trying their luck as independent candidates.
For the electorate of Orissa, the presence of scions of royal families in the electoral fray is nothing new. They have seen the likes of Kamakhsya Prasad Singh Deo, Bikram Keshari Deo, Gopinath Gajapati Narayan Deo and Udit Pratap Deo leave their mark in the state politics in the past.
The royal contestants enjoy immense popularity in their respective regions and are still held in awe by the people.
* * * *
The hectic campaign schedule of the leaders often drive them to go to crazy lengths to reach their voters. For instance, a former Chief Minister and Orissa Pradesh Congress Committee chief Mr J.B. Patnaik found himself grounded while on his way to an election meeting in Jajpur last week. His chopper ran out of fuel near Mandarakhanda. The former Chief Minister had to hitch-hike on a tractor, ignorant of the fact that the vehicle was the election symbol of the Janata Dal (S).
* * * *
The chopper problems are not confined to Mr Patnaik alone. His illustrious opponent Mr Navin Patnaik in his enthusiasm ignored bad weather and persuaded his pilot to fly him to various venues. On his way to Kalhandi, his helicopter flying virtually in nil visibility, all of a sudden came face to face with a mountain. The alert pilot turned the chopper to escape a crash.
* * * *
Riding on a bicycle to the electorate is much simpler than trying to sell them pineapples, a candidate in the Balasore Assembly segment has realised. Legislator Arun Dey, who has been contesting successfully for the past two decades from Balasore as an Independent, found to his chagrin that the Election Commission had withdrawn the bicycle symbol allotted to him for the past several years. Having allotted the bicycle symbol to a registered party, Mr Dey has been given pineapple as his identity. His problems have been compounded as a large number of illiterate voters in his constituency only know him by the previous symbol.
* * * *
The Congress, alarmed by
the immense popularity of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister,
Mr Chandrababu Naidu, in Orissa has been busy spreading
rumours about him. Mr Naidu, who came to the rescue of
Orissa soon after a super cyclone hit its coastal region,
has been actively campaigning for the Biju Janata Dal.
The Congressmen has been spreading word that there was no
philanthropy involved in Mr Naidus gesture as he
sent a hefty bill to the state government for all
assistance given by his government. It finally took Mr
Naidu to set the record straight. He told newspersons
that the Congress allegations were baseless. Mr Naidu
said he had spent around Rs 7 crore on relief and
rehabilitation works for Orissa and he was treating the
whole amount as a grant. His statement has left many red
faces in the Congress.
Bellary seat a low-key affair
BELLARY, Feb 15 (PTI) The Bellary Lok Sabha constituency, which witnessed a high-voltage battle between Congress President Sonia Gandhi and BJP leader Sushma Swaraj in the last parliamentary elections, is all set for a triangular contest in the February 17 byelection.
Campaigning in this one of the most backward constituencies in Karnataka, which was vacated by Sonia who preferred Amethi, has remained low-key in the absence of high-profile contestants.
The Congress has taken the election as a "prestige battle" wanting to prove that the constituency continues to be its bastion, having not lost a parliamentary elections since 1952.
The BJP, in alliance with the JD-U, is banking upon the "solid foundation" laid by Swaraj, who secured 3.6 lakh votes but lost to Sonia by over 50,000 votes. Swaraj, who campaigned extensively and aggressively, had succeeded in "educating" the voters on BJP symbol lotus.
The Congress has fielded
K. Basavana Gouda, a former Secretary of the
Veerashaiva Vidyavardhaka Sangha, which is
running a number of educational institutions in the
8 killed in
CBI report on
Idols found in
20,000 lt of
Arunachal to get
Dr Singh is
Punjabi Academy Secretary
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