Monday, September 3, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

NC may recall Omar Abdullah
Aggrieved Sharad Yadav meets Vajpayee

New Delhi, September 2
The ongoing tiff between the National Conference (NC) and the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has widened further with the party accusing the Centre of ignoring its representative Omar Abdullah in the Union Cabinet.

Party sources said senior party leaders have been exerting pressure on Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and NC President Farooq Abdullah to recall Mr Omar from the Union Cabinet.

The sources said yesterday’s reshuffle by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was to “discredit” other allies and elevate BJP members.

The sources said the party leaders were also irked at the elevation of Mr Chaman Lal Gupta, BJP MP from Jammu, to Minister of State with independent charge of Food Processing.

Senior National Conference leaders have asked whether Mr Gupta’s elevation was a reward for being an NC-basher on non-issues, the sources said.

Stating that their representative brought laurels to the country not only as Minister of State for External Affairs but also during his stint as Commerce Minister, the sources said senior government functionaries could not discredit him for the work he had done.

This is the second tiff in a week between the National Conference and the ruling NDA. Last week, Mr Farooq Abdullah had threatened to quit the NDA following remarks by Mr Vajpayee and Home Minister L.K. Advani on the fairness of successive polls in the state.

Meanwhile, a day after the reshuffle of Union Cabinet portfolios, Sharad Yadav, who was shifted from the Civil Aviation Ministry to Labour Ministry, met Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today.

Sources close to Mr Yadav said he had not so far made up his mind as to when he would assume charge of his new portfolio.

During the meeting with Mr Vajpayee, Mr Yadav is understood to have taken up the matter of his transfer from the Civil Aviation Ministry where he was perceived to be anti-reforms, including disinvestment of Air India.

The sources said his shifting appeared to be because of the opposition he showed to the disinvestment.

The sources felt the move to shift Mr Yadav was also undertaken as he appeared to be in a politically weak position after the split in the Janata Dal.

Sources said ‘vested interests’ in the establishment were unhappy over the manner in which Mr Sharad Yadav was making efforts to achieve a turnaround in the balance sheet of the loss-making public sector airlines to bring it out of the red.

There were serious differences between the Department of Disinvestment and the Civil Aviation Ministry not only about the quantum of equity to be divested, but also regarding the leasing of profit-making airports to the private sector.

The Indian Airlines, which suffered a loss of about Rs 378 crore in 1996-97, had made a turnaround to come out of the red and registered a marginal profit of Rs 23 crore in the first six months of this fiscal year. PTI, UNIBack


Pradhan gets Consumer Affairs

New Delhi, September 2
Mr Ashok Pradhan, Dalit MP from Khurja in Uttar Pradesh, was today sworn in as Union Minister of State.

President K.R. Narayanan administered the oath of office and secrecy to Mr Pradhan at a brief ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

With the induction of Mr Pradhan, who could not take oath along with others yesterday as he was in Durban, the strength of the Council of Ministers has gone up to 71, including 32 Cabinet ministers, six ministers of state with independent charge and 32 ministers of state.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and his ministerial colleagues, including Mr L. K. Advani and Mr Jaswant Singh, were present on the occasion.

Mr Pradhan, 47, who prefers to keep a low profile, was elected to the Lok Sabha for the third time in 1999.

Mr Pradhan was given the portfolio of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, a Rashtrapati Bhavan communique said. PTI


PM consulted me before reshuffle: Paswan

New Delhi, September 2
Lok Janshakti Party President Ram Vilas Paswan today set at rest the speculation that he was unhappy at being shifted from the Communication Ministry and said he would assume his new charge tomorrow as Minister for Coal and Mines.

During an informal chat with newspersons at his residence here, Mr Paswan said Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had taken the decision after consulting him. Mr Paswan said the Prime Minister had denied that he decided on reshuffling portfolios on the basis of the performance of various ministers.

“The Prime Minister has the prerogative to change portfolios. It is the individual who is important and not the ministry,” Mr Paswan said.

During Mr Paswan’s interaction with mediapersons, the new Communication Minister, Mr Pramod Mahajan, came to meet his predecessor. Mr Mahajan, who assumed charge earlier in the day, is leaving on a foreign tour tonight.

Mr Paswan expressed satisfaction over his tenure in the Communication Ministry, saying that the government had succeeded in bringing telephone and Internet facilities to the panchayat level.

He said though cellular operators were unhappy over his introduction of Wireless in Local Loop (WLL) technology, they were happy with the transparent functioning of the ministry. UNI

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
121 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |