Friday, November 3, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Mamata insists on rollback
Tribune News Service and UNI

NEW DELHI, Nov 2 — The issue of rolling back oil prices continued to simmer in the Trinamool Congress with the party leader and Railway Minister, Ms Mamata Banerjee, raising the issue at the Cabinet meeting today.

The meeting, the second after the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, returned from his knee surgery in Mumbai, did not have the issue on the agenda but the firebrand leader still raised it.

In the previous meeting held on October 30, the issue did not figure on the agenda but Ms Banerjee had given a letter to the Prime Minister on how he could roll back the prices without hitting the economy. Ms Banerjee had then claimed that Mr Vajpayee had given her a personal assurance and it had nothing to do with the Cabinet meeting.

However, with the Government, faced with a ballooning oil pool account deficit and no let up in international crude oil prices, keeping silent, Ms Banerjee decided to raise the issue today at the Cabinet meeting.

Incidentally, the Petroleum Minister, Mr Ram Naik, was not present at the meeting as he was preoccupied with the Consultative Committee meeting of his Ministry.

“I raised the issue and Mr Yashwant Sinha said he wanted some more time to decide on it” Ms Banerjee told newsmen after coming out of the Cabinet meeting.

The Cabinet spokesperson and Union Minister, Mr Pramod Mahajan, however, maintained that the rollback was not on the agenda of the meeting. “Like last time, the Cabinet did not discuss the issue. If it was on the agenda, you would have known about it” he said.


Peeved secy quits
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Nov 2 — Peeved at the frequent reshuffle of his portfolios, the Economic Affairs Secretary, Mr E.A.S. Sarma today quit from the Indian Administrative Service.

His transfer to the Coal Ministry as Secretary yesterday proved to be the last straw and prompted Mr Sarma to meet the new Cabinet Secretary, Mr T.R. Prasad, and to put in his papers.

Mr Sarma had been feeling dislocated for quite some time as his departments had been changed frequently. He had hardly served one year as Power Secretary and just before major reforms took place in the sector, he was shifted to the Finance Ministry as Expenditure Secretary.

His stay as the Expenditure Secretary, however, did not last long and he was shifted within a year to the Economic Affairs Department.

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