Monday, July 17, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Thackeray threatens to oust Deshmukh
Sena men stone buses

MUMBAI, July 16 (PTI, UNI) — Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray today threatened to oust the Congress-NCP led government in Maharashtra if he was arrested for his alleged role in the Mumbai 1992-93 riots but Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh asserted that the law would take its own course.

As Mr Thackeray and the state government confronted each other, stray violence by Sena activists here and parts of Maharashtra marred their protests against the move to arrest the party chief.

Mr Thackeray told reporters that he would be “compelled” to suggest to the Centre for the dismissal of the Maharashtra government if it pressed ahead with its “revengeful attitude” and prosecuted him.

On the other hand, Mr Deshmukh told reporters that his government would not be “shattered” by Mr Thackeray’s threats and “the law will take its own course” against the Sena supremo.

“My government has taken a decision (to prosecute Mr Thackeray) and they (Centre) are free to do their job,” he said, adding that the government had “enough justification” to reopen the eight-year-old case against Mr Thackeray.

Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal said no timeframe had been set for the Sena supremo’s arrest.

Mr Thackeray said if something untoward happens after his arrest, the entire responsibility would rest with the Democratic Front government. But the Chief Minister said his government was ready to face any eventuality.

Meanwhile, stray incidents of stone throwing, ‘rasta roko’ protests and squatting on rail tracks were reported here today as Shiv Sena activists went around the city asking shopkeepers to put up their shutters in protest against the Maharashtra Government’s sanctioning of prosecution against party chief Bal Thackeray in a 1992-93 communal riots case yesterday.

Central Railway (CR) suburban train services between Thane and Kurla were suspended since 9:30 a.m. as Sena activists squatted on the tracks at Mulund and other places along the route, a CR spokesman said.

Suburban services on the Harbour Line and Western Railway were running, though behind schedule.

Sena activists threw stones at buses in Vikhroli in North-East Mumbai and forced closure of shops in Dadar, Kurla, Chembur, Ghatkopar, Vikhroli and Govandi in the central and eastern suburbs and Jogeshwari in the western suburbs, the police said.

No other incident of violence was reported from any other part of the city and the situation was peaceful and under control, the police claimed, adding a strong police bandobast was being maintained all over the city.

In the morning, between 200 and 300 Sena activists attempted to disrupt vehicular traffic in a ‘rasta roko’ agitation at Kherwadi in suburban Bandra, the police said, while incidents of deflating of the municipality-run BEST buses’ tyres were reported from some parts of the city and suburbs.

No arrest has been made so far.

In Kolhapur the Sena was observing a district bandh today and most shops, petrol stations and business establishments in the city were closed, official sources said.

Last night, Sena activists took out a protest march through Kolhapur city’s main roads, asking shopkeepers to put up their shutters. Several shops and restaurants closed down in response, the sources said.

At the powerloom town of Ichalkaranji in the district, Sena activists pelted stones at three State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) buses and two trucks, the police said.

In Nasik, Sena activists led by municipal corporator Vasant Gite last night burnt an effigy of Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, who announced the government’s decision, and forced shopkeepers to put up shutters, the police said today.

Protesters led by former minister and Shiv Sena MLA from Nasik Road-Devlali, Babanrao Gholap and city Sena chief Datta Gaikwad staged a ‘rasta roko’ stir at Nasik road, forced the closure of shops and business establishments and pelted stones at an MSRTC bus, breaking its windowpanes.

However, the police claimed that the situation in Nasik city and other

parts of the district was peaceful and under control.

Meanwhile, the Opposition Shiv Sena-BJP in Maharashtra today boycotted the Chief Minister’s customary tea party on the eve of the three-week monsoon session beginning here tomorrow in protest against the Democratic Front government’s decision to initiate action against Thackeray.

Leader of the Opposition in the legislative assembly Narayan Rane, his counterpart in the legislative council Nitin Gadkari and BJP leader Gopinath Munde accused the government of raking up “non issues” to cover its failures on all counts.

Describing the decision as “politically motivated” and an attempt to divert the attention of the people from its all-round failure in governance, Mr Rane said, “If the government dared to take action against Mr Thackeray, the entire state would be up in flames and the government would have to face the consequences.”

“By drawing out old skeletons from the cupboard, on the eve of the monsoon session, the Democratic Front government wants to hide its all round failure they feel that the Opposition will stick to the volatile issue of process of action against Mr Thackeray’s and forget the main issues concerning the people,” Mr Munde said.

New Delhi: Scores of Shiv Sainiks led by their Delhi unit chief Jai Bhagwan Goyal on Sunday staged a demonstration here protesting against the state government’s green signal to the police to prosecute Thackeray.

The party activists marched from Mandi House circle to Maharashtra Sadan in the heart of the capital.

Later, a Sena delegation led by Goyal met Home Minister L. K. Advani and sought Central intervention to get the decision withdrawn. 


Thakre may be replaced
From Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, July 16 — Uncertainty prevails within the Bharatiya Janata Party on the question of giving another term to BJP President Kushabhau Thakre.

A new President of the party would be announced next month with an official notification for the BJP presidential election being issued on August 1.

While official process would begin from August 1, informal consultations have already begun which indicate that Mr Thakre was not the most obvious choice for another term, authoritative sources point out.

The party Vice-President, Mr K. Jana Krishnamurthy is being tipped to take over from Mr Thakre. Mr Jana Krishnamurthy is being favoured with an argument that since the party has to undertake a major expansion exercise in the southern states, he would be ideally suited for the job. At the Chennai session a few months back, there was a call for projecting Mr Krishnamurthy as the next Chief of the party.

But if a consensus is not possible on Mr Jana Krishnamurthy, then a dark horse may emerge as the next President, a senior leader said adding that Mr Thakre is practically isolated in the party.

While the name of the Gujarat Governor, Mr Sunder Singh Bhandari has also been mentioned in media, the credible party sources rule him out. They, however, say that Mr Bhandari may get some support from the Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh (RSS) but Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Union Home Minister L.K. Advani would have the final say in the matter. They, both, are said to be opposed to Mr Bhandari.

Those who are opposed to give another term to Mr Thakre say that the party’s popularity graph has been sliding fast and control over the state units has weakened considerably during his tenure.

They further point out that Mr Thakre’s term would be remembered for bidding goodbye to the principle of consensus over party presidents in state units. For the first time, an election had to be held for electing the party president in Mr Thakre’s own state of Madhya Pradesh, they aver adding that similar contests are likely in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

They also accuse Mr Thakre of promoting factionalism and groupism in the BJP which was not known till recently. Moreover, they say that he has also not been keeping good health which is required to undertake extensive tours and meet the party cadres.

Mr Thakre in his best of wisdom also did not give the charge of organisation to any of the General Secretary a post he held as the BJP’s General Secretary which his critics say is responsible for growing indiscipline in the party.

Not only that a national vernacular newspaper, known to be close to the BJP, recently ran a campaign against Mr Thakre.

Party insiders say that such a campaign would not be run without a signal from the Prime Minister’s Office.

A final decision would be officially taken at a meeting in which the Prime Minister, the Union Home Minister, the RSS chief, Mr K. S. Sudarshan, the former RSS boss, Prof Rajendra Singh and Mr Thakre would be present.

The elections are being held under the amended party Constitution. The amended rule says that a single term of three years for the President’s post against the existing two terms of two years each would be applicable from now.

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