Saturday, March 24, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

NDA, Cong to go to people
Tehelka disclosures
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 23
With the stalemate in Parliament over the Tehelka tapes expose unresolved, the ruling NDA and Congress are set to take their case to people through rallies and demonstrations during the three-week recess in Parliament.

Both the NDA and the Congress are going to the masses on the same day - the NDA with a big rally in the Ram Lila Ground here on March 25 which will be addressed among others by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and the Congress with a smaller, Delhi-level rally at a smaller venue.

The Congress has chalked a nationwide programme of rallies which will be held in every district of the state. But unlike the NDA which is projecting the Delhi rally as a major show of strength, the Congress has not planned any big rally so far. Surprisingly, Congress President Sonia Gandhi will not address any rally during her party’s nationwide agitation demanding exit of the Vajpayee government on moral grounds and criminal action against people allegedly exposed by the Tehelka tapes.

The NDA rally, which will be addressed by almost all its constituents, would try to take the battle into Opposition’s camp with the CBI case against Sonia Gandhi’s aide Vincent George providing it the much-needed ammunition to fire back at the Congress which has been unrelenting in its demand for the ouster of the Vajpayee government.

The Prime Minister is expected to use the occasion to answer criticism against his government, including some PMO officials, which has even been voiced by some members of the Sangh Parivar. The NDA will also try to turn the heat on the Congress referring to the alleged scams during its rule and the CBI case against Vincent George.

Though the Congress has been questioning the timing of FIR, calling it an act of political vendetta, its attack on the BJP-led government may not have the same effect as the party would have liked.

The absence of Mrs Sonia Gandhi from the rallies, which was indicated today by a party spokesman, may fail to enthuse the workers in the manner the party would have liked.


Karunakaran chargesheeted

Thiruvananthapuram, March 23
The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau today submitted a fresh charge sheet against former Kerala Chief Minister K.Karunakaran, former minister T.H.Musthafa and six others in the sensational multi-crore palm oil import deal.

The charge sheet, filed in the court of vigilance judge H.K. Balakrishnan, accused Mr Karunakaran and others of criminal conspiracy, causing a loss of about Rs 2.32 crore to the state exchequer on account of importing 15,000 tonnes of palm oil from Malaysia at an enhanced price, during 4, 1991, to April 8, 1992.

Those accused along with Mr Karunakaran and the then Minister of Food and Civil Supplies T.H. Mustaffa include former Chief Secretary S. Padmakumar, former Additional Chief Secretary and Chairman of the State Civil Supplies Corporation Zachariah Mathew, the then Managing Director of the corporation Jiji Thomson UNI

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