M A I N   N E W S

Buta’s role unfortunate, says PM
Promises to build new Bihar — with Lalu
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, November 8
The Prime Minister made a dig at Governor Buta Singh by describing his decision to recommend President’s rule in Bihar as “unfortunate”. Dr Manmohan Singh said, “The Governor should not have acted in such a manner.”

Dr Singh also broke his silence on the Supreme Court’s indictment of Governor Buta Singh, saying that the constitutional authorities should be above suspicion and function in a manner that does not invite adverse comments.

“I don’t like this controversy about the role of the Governor. It is an unfortunate development,” he said.

The Prime Minister said Governor Buta Singh should avoid triggering controversies through his statements.

Dr Singh told newspersons here that in view of his constitutional post, Mr Buta Singh should avoid issuing statements which create confusion.

Regarding the Supreme Court’s order describing the role of Buta Singh and dissolution of the state Assembly as “unconstitutional,” he said the Governor should keep in mind the dignity of the post. It was “unfortunate” that the Governor with his statements was trapped in controversies, he added.

The Prime Minister was answering questions from the media at Patna airport today before leaving for Delhi.

He had come here to campaign for SDF candidates in Saharsa and Sitamari where polling would take place on November 13 and 16, respectively.

Dr Manmohan Singh was all praise for RJD supremo Lalu Prasad and promised to build a new Bihar with him after the Secular Democratic Front (SDF) was voted to power in the Assembly poll.

The four-phased Assembly poll in Bihar, which began on October 18, would end on November 19 and the results would be declared on November 22, paving the way for the formation of the new government.

The Prime Minister praised him for introducing “unprecedented reforms” in the Indian Railways under his stewardship as Union Railway Minister.

Dr Singh claimed that with UPA ruling at the Centre, the UPF and SDF combination in Delhi and Patna could usher in a new era of development in Bihar. “There were some developments in Bihar after Independence. But the NDA played a stepmotherly attitude towards Bihar. We want to put Bihar on the path of development again,” the Prime Minister said.

According to Dr Singh, the development-related programmes for energy, health, education, irrigation, agriculture and agro-based industries meant for Bihar could best be encashed if the SDF was voted to power. “If like-minded forces rule at the Centre and in the state, progress is bound to be faster,” he said.

However, the Prime Minister promised the same cooperation under the Constitutional provision if the forces opposite to the RJD were voted to power in Bihar.

Replying to a question Dr Singh said the decision by the other UPA partner, the LJP, to fight elections separately would not mar the poll prospects of the UPA.

Reaching Patna this morning, the Prime Minister first addressed a rally at Saharsa where former Chief Minister Rabri Devi shared the platform with him.

At Saharsa, bordering Nepal, the Prime Minister promised steps to mitigate the problems of floods which cause havoc in the region every year. “We have initiated a dialogue with Nepal and plan to construct dams and reservoirs to check the problem in the area,” he said.

In Sitamari, the RJD supremo accompanied the Prime Minister where Dr Singh reminded the people of Mr Lalu Prasad successfully combating communalism in Bihar. “There has not been a single riot in Bihar in the past 15 years of the RJD rule,” he said, while appealing the voters to defeat the NDA.


Natwar to stay in Cabinet: PM
Tribune News Service

Patna, November 8
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said former External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh will continue in the Cabinet till the inquiry commission submitted its report before the government. “The charges against him are still unsubstantiated,” Dr Manmohan Singh said.

Talking to mediapersons at Patna airport today, he claimed that the Volcker report could not lower the image of the government.

Dr Singh said, “We will get to the bottom of the allegation of kickbacks to find out the truth.”

Describing the charges of the Volcker report as “unsubstantiated” till proved, the Prime Minister ruled out any possibility of removing Mr Natwar Singh from the Cabinet.

The Prime minister claimed that the enquiry commission appointed by the Centre, with the cooperation assured by the United Nations, would dig out the truth in the alleged oil-for-food scam and related beneficiaries.


PM for SAARC summit
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 8
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will leave for Dhaka on November 11 for attending the 13th SAARC summit (November 12 and 13) and will return on November 13, Prime Minister's Media Advisor Sanjaya Baru told The Tribune today.

Three new trade facilitation agreements are likely to be signed at the Dhaka summit relating to establishment of a SAARC Arbitration Council, Mutual Administrative Assistance in Customs Matters and a Limited Multilateral Treaty on Avoidance of Double Taxation.

The summit is expected to recognise the need to strengthen cooperation in fighting the scourge of terrorism, and would be stressing the need for ratification of the Additional Protocol to the SAARC Convention on Suppression of Terrorism, and call for an early conclusion of a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, the Ministry of External Affairs said.

The summit would be deliberating upon the decision to admit Afghanistan as a new member of SAARC. India would be happy to support Afghanistan’s bid. The decision on this issue would have to be taken by a consensus of all member states. India would be tabling a number of new proposals with a view to ushering in the third decade of SAARC with renewed vigour and enthusiasm and to augment cooperation in the sectors of education, textiles and handicrafts, civil aviation, healthcare and sports.

India has been keenly advocating identification and implementation of regional collaborative projects for South Asia. The summit would be recommending reconstitution of the South Asian Development Fund (SADF) by merging existing and proposed funds into a SAARC Development Fund.

This new fund shall utilise India’s pledge money of US $ 100 million as a part of its initial corpus of US $ 300 million. India is to host the 14th SAARC Summit in January 2007. An announcement about this will be made at the 13th summit. Since poverty alleviation has been identified as the overarching goal of SAARC, the summit is expected to declare the decade from 2006 to 2015 as the SAARC Decade of Poverty Alleviation. In this regard, the summit would be endorsing the SAARC Development Goals (SDGs), as recommended by the Independent South Asian Commission on Poverty Alleviation (ISACPA), for implementation of the SAARC Social Charter by the member states.

The summit is expected to direct a mid-term review of the progress in realising the objectives of the SAARC Decade on the Rights of the Child (2001-2010), to be undertaken in 2006.

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