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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Sonia, Manmohan woo Muslims
AICC president Sonia Gandhi during an election rally at Captainganj in UP.Bahraich, April 20
Congress president Sonia Gandhi writes signed letters in Urdu expressing her desire to see the Congress as a strong secular party and Prime Minster Manmohan Singh promises Muslims more jobs and education in Urdu at government expenses.
AICC president Sonia Gandhi during an election rally at Captainganj in UP on Friday. — PTI

Change course or pay price, CPM tells UPA
New Delhi, April 20
In a stern warning, the CPM today asked the Congress-led UPA government to change its course or pay the price. It warned that the Manmohan Singh government should not take its outside support for granted and continue with its “neo-liberal” policies.

IIMs put admissions on hold
Bangalore, April 20
The Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Bangalore, has decided to withhold the dispatch of admission letters to the selected candidates till the fate of admission of candidates selected under the enhanced OBC quota is finalised.





EARLIER STORIES




Shahana, mother of Janhvi Kapoor, talks to mediapersons at her residence in Srinagar Janhvi-Abhi affair was for real: Mother
Srinagar, April 20
Hours after Janhvi Kapoor attempted suicide in Mumbai, her mother Shahana Agha admitted here today that Janhvi was having an affair with Bollywood star Abhishek Bachchan. Amid the media attention towards the Abhishek-Aishwarya marriage, Shahana said her daughter had been associated with Abhishek since their shooting for Hindi film "Dus".





Shahana, mother of Janhvi Kapoor, talks to mediapersons at her residence in Srinagar on Friday. — PTI

Urban development
Centre asks Punjab to submit plans
New Delhi, April 20
The Centre today asked the Punjab government to submit plans for the improvement of infrastructure in cities like building mass rapid transport system, elevated roads and flyovers with a futuristic vision of next half a century. D.S.Bains, principal secretary local government, has assured that most of the projects would be submitted by the end of next month.

‘Link BBMB head works case to PTA Act issue’
New Delhi, April 20
The Punjab government today requested the supreme court to link its appeal in the Bhakra-Beas water distribution system head work maintenance issue with the Punjab Termination of Agreements (PTA) Act case and refer it to the constitution bench, claiming that both matters related to water-sharing disputes and were inter-connected.

Cong to push for Katara’s expulsion from LS
New Delhi, April 20
Realising that the Babubhai Katara incident has pushed the BJP on the defensive, the Congress is all set to up the ante against the main opposition party and press for the expulsion of its disgraced MP from the Lok Sabha when the Parliament session reconvenes on April 26.

Unauthorised travel: MP’s wife fined
Allahabad, April 20
Wife of a JD (U) MP from Bihar has been slapped with a fine of over Rs 10,000 for travelling unauthorisedly in an AC coach of Rajdhani Express, a railway official said here.

Polio drops replace ‘charnamrit’
Patna, April 20
It is no longer a celebrity campaign against polio in Bihar. Known for its penchant for innovations, the Nitish government has now roped in Hindu priests to administer polio drops to children after 11 fresh polio cases reported from different parts of the state of a total 31 in the country in first three months of 2007.


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IMD forecast 5% less than average monsoon.
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Sonia, Manmohan woo Muslims
Shahira Naim

Bahraich, April 20
Congress president Sonia Gandhi writes signed letters in Urdu expressing her desire to see the Congress as a strong secular party and Prime Minster Manmohan Singh promises Muslims more jobs and education in Urdu at government expenses.

Muslims once again are being wooed by the Congress across 10 districts for 57 seats in the fourth phase of election scheduled for April 23. At present there are six Muslim sitting MLAs from these seats.

While the party claims to be above the politics of religion and caste, it does not miss a chance to directly appealing to the Muslim voters to strengthen the Congress.

Addressing a rally at the Girls Government Inter College grounds, the Prime Minister points to the “appalling condition of the minorities”. Thousands of weather-beaten faces in crocheted skull caps listen attentively as he tells them about his government initiative to present the Sachar committee report in order to bring about some “substantive change” in their lives.

He informs them of the revised 15-point programme under which the Muslim-dominated areas would have more schools, anganwadis, better quality of education, more loans at easier terms and ultimately more job opportunities. He also promises learning opportunity in Urdu for which his government would bear the expenses.

Later speaking to this reporter, Badruddin Ansari, a shopkeeper from the city admits that he sounded like a man who meant to do something for them. “He is a big man and if he promises all this he can do it.”

But Ansari is not so sure if votes would go the Congress way in return. “Is baar dekhenge. Haan agli baar zaroor sonchenge.” (This time we will see, next time we would think about it).

Meanwhile, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has personally signed 15,000 letters written in Urdu and sent to prominent Muslims across the state.

The one-page letter says that as the head of the Congress, it was her desire to see secular forces become stronger.

“As the biggest political party in the country, it is our duty to prepare a society where no strata or section faces any injustice...it is a big responsibility, which cannot be completed without your active support,” she wrote.

Sonia had asked the district-level Congress leaders to send her a list of prominent Muslim leaders. In this manner a list of 15,000 influential Muslims leaders was compiled.

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Change course or pay price, CPM tells UPA
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 20
In a stern warning, the CPM today asked the Congress-led UPA government to change its course or pay the price. It warned that the Manmohan Singh government should not take its outside support for granted and continue with its “neo-liberal” policies.

“The Congress leadership should not take the support of the Left parties to the government for granted by posing the threat of the BJP,” an article in the latest issue of the party mouthpiece People’s Democracy said.

“It is precisely because the BJP is benefiting from the Congress stance and the government’s policies that the CPM firmly opposes all those political and economic measures which create the grounds for communal forces to feed on popular discontent. The Congress leadership has to ensure that the UPA government changes course. Failure to do so will extract a heavy political price,” it cautioned.

The article came down heavily on the finance, commerce and agriculture ministers and the Planning Commission deputy chairman, and the CPM could not go along with the government’s “anti-people prescriptions”.

This is the first time that the CPM has expressed displeasure in the functioning of the government in such harsh terms. Recently, CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan had expressed the need to review support to the government as the saffron party was continuing to gain electorally while the UPA government was pursuing “anti-people policies”.

The two other Left parties supporting the government from outside, the All India Forward Bloc and the Revolutionary Socialist Party, have already demanded the withdrawal of support.

The article by a political commentator accused finance minister P. Chidambaram of having “glibly talks of achieving 10 per cent GDP growth at a time when he should have been handling the inflation and price rise”.

“There is disconnect between what the people and even the Congress mass base are expecting and what the UPA government and its ministers are striving for,” it said.

“The agriculture minister (Sharad Pawar) seems oblivious that procurement of wheat by the FCI is languishing while private traders corner the crop,” the CPM said warning that it would have a deleterious effect on the public distribution system.

The article alleged that Commerce Minister Kamal Nath was “bent upon bringing FDI in retail by hook or by crook”.

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IIMs put admissions on hold
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, April 20
The Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Bangalore, has decided to withhold the dispatch of admission letters to the selected candidates till the fate of admission of candidates selected under the enhanced OBC quota is finalised.

The IIM-B took this decision after a directive from the Union Human Resource Ministry. Reacting to the issue, IIM- B director Prakash G Apte said the institute had decided to suspend the admission process till April 23 when the Supreme Court is slated to hear the case.

“We wanted to complete the selection of candidates according to last year’s quantum of seats. In this way admission to the enhanced seats under the OBC quota could have been taken up at a later date once the court came out with its order on the issue”. He said this could not be done because the HRD minister did not respond to the request made in this regard.

Apte said now that the HRD Ministry had given a direction to postpone the admission process, it had been complied with. He said the students who had participated in the admission process would be kept informed about any immediate development through the institute’s website.

Earlier, the institute had received a letter from the HRD Ministry, warning it that any unilateral decision by any of the central educational institutions would be a violation of the communication. The letter states that the IIMs are required to comply with the communication of April 5 and not issue "any offers of admission for the academic year 2007 until such institutions receive further communications in this regard from the Central Government, which will be given at the earliest".

Due to this IIM-B as well as the other five IIMs stayed coming out with the admission lists today as scheduled earlier. The IIMs have been claiming since the last fortnight that any delay of the admission process beyond April 21 would affect the candidates who were taking part in it. The institute’s had claimed that the students stood to lose between Rs 2 and 10 lakh which they might have to pay to another institute in which they were selected while they waited for the completion of the IIM admission process.

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Janhvi-Abhi affair was for real: Mother
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, April 20
Hours after Janhvi Kapoor attempted suicide in Mumbai, her mother Shahana Agha admitted here today that Janhvi was having an affair with Bollywood star Abhishek Bachchan.

Amid the media attention towards the Abhishek-Aishwarya marriage, Shahana said her daughter had been associated with Abhishek since their shooting for Hindi film "Dus".

Janhvi had played a role in the film and also appeared in the dance for its song "Dus bahane..."

Shahana said her daughter was unmarried and there was no question of her having a son. She was opposed to the marriage of her daughter with Abhishek as both belonged to different religions, she said.

However, sources said Janhvi had earlier been married to Shia leader Kalb-e-Sadiq’s son Kalb-e-Hussain in Lucknow and had a son, Kalb-e-Ali. She later got divorced.

After the death of her husband Mohsin Rizvi in Lucknow, Shahana got married to Agha Nasir Ali from Srinagar about two decades ago.

Her three daughters, Janhvi, alias Haiya, Mohsina and Neha, moved to Srinagar after her second marriage. Janhvi had moved to Mumbai about a decade ago.

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Urban development
Centre asks Punjab to submit plans
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 20
The Centre today asked the Punjab government to submit plans for the improvement of infrastructure in cities like building mass rapid transport system, elevated roads and flyovers with a futuristic vision of next half a century. D.S.Bains, principal secretary local government, has assured that most of the projects would be submitted by the end of next month.

Punjab should also take schemes for construction of by passes, flyovers and elevated roads. All the major cities should provide local buses for the rapid mass transport, union urban development minister, Jaipal Reddy, suggested when Manoranjan Kalia, minister for local government, Industry and commerce, called on him.

Reddy suggested Punjab should put up detailed project reports in a time bound manner and Centre would get them appraised from the technical agencies quickly. He advised that the projects should look at a 50 years vision.

While noting that Punjab was a progressive state, he assured complete assistance by the government for funding the projects. He emphasized that the provision of drinking water was the top most priority under the Jawahar Lal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. The Centre would also help to complete the sewerage disposal plants.

Manoranjan Kalia urged for liberal assistance for upgradation of urban infrastructure in the state. He said the Centre has already decided to take up the improvement of the Amritsar Corporation within an out lay of over Rs.3000 crore.

The process for funding development within Ludhiana Corporation at a cost of Rs 2000 crore was under consideration.

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‘Link BBMB head works case to PTA Act issue’
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, April 20
The Punjab government today requested the supreme court to link its appeal in the Bhakra-Beas water distribution system head work maintenance issue with the Punjab Termination of Agreements (PTA) Act case and refer it to the constitution bench, claiming that both matters related to water-sharing disputes and were inter-connected.

The Punjab government had moved a special leave petition (SLP) in the apex court against the 2005 order of the Rajasthan high court directing it to handover the maintenance of three vital head works to the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB), a central agency to ensure proper flow of water to Rajasthan.

The supreme court on May 10, 2005, had stayed the high court order while admitting the Punjab government SLP. In an ex-parte order passed on a PIL on May 2, 2005, the high court had directed the Punjab government to hand over the maintenance of Ropar, Harike and Ferozepore head works to the BBMB immediately.

During a brief but heated arguments before a bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices P.K. Balasubramanyan and R.V. Raveendran today, senior advocate Rajiv Dhawan, appearing for Punjab, said the issue was linked to the water-sharing between the two states and required to be heard together with the PTA Act case.

Since the presidential reference on the PTA Act had already been referred to a five-judge constitution bench, this case should also be placed before it, he said.

But this was strongly contested by Rajasthan counsel Aruneshwar Gupta, who said the two issues could not be linked together as the maintenance of the head works was purely a technical matter relating to the release of permitted quantity of water to Rajasthan from the BBMB network.

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Cong to push for Katara’s expulsion from LS
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 20
Realising that the Babubhai Katara incident has pushed the BJP on the defensive, the Congress is all set to up the ante against the main opposition party and press for the expulsion of its disgraced MP from the Lok Sabha when the Parliament session reconvenes on April 26.

Taking a serious view of the two-time BJP MP’s possible involvement in a larger human trafficking racket, Congress sources said the party would cite the precedent of the MPs caught in the “cash-for query” sting operation whose cases were referred to the ethics committee, finally culminating in their expulsion.

The issue is expected to figure in the all-party meeting called by Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee on April 25 ostensibly to discuss the orderly functioning of the house.

Maintaining that by trying to smuggle a woman to Canada on his wife’s passport court in Delhi, the MP from Gujarat had not only misused his diplomatic passport but will also face serious charges like impersonation and forgery.

“If we could suspend MPs for accepting Rs 5,000 for asking questions in Parliament, this case is far more serious. Katara is supposed to have taken Rs 30 lakh in return for taking the woman to Canada,” remarked a senior Congress minister, adding that this case can hardly be overlooked.

The Congress has a two-fold objective in launching an all-out offensive against the BJP on this particular issue. If it does succceed in getting Katara expelled, it will reduce the BJP’s strength in the Lok Sabha. More importantly, it will give an opportunity to the Congress to pull the BJP down from the high moral ground that it generally assumes, often touting itself as a “party with a difference”.

The Congress made its intentions clear today when it used the Katara case to put the BJP and its Hindutva mascot, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in the dock on the Katara issue.

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Unauthorised travel: MP’s wife fined

Allahabad, April 20
Wife of a JD (U) MP from Bihar has been slapped with a fine of over Rs 10,000 for travelling unauthorisedly in an AC coach of Rajdhani Express, a railway official said here.

The action came after the Vigilance Department informed railway officials last night that a coupe in the AC first class coach of New Delhi-Patna Rajdhani Express, reserved in the name of JD(U) MP Prabhunath Singh, was unauthorisedly occupied by some others.

A team of officials entered the coach near Kanpur for checking but were allegedly snubbed by some MPs, who were travelling in the same compartment, PRO of North Central Railway said.

Following this, the senior divisional commercial manager, Mohammed Azhar Shams, accompanied by the GRP and RPF personnel entered the coupe, in which the MP’s wife was found travelling with her two sons, when the train reached Allahabad past midnight

Since the wife of an MP is allowed to travel in a coupe reserved in her husband’s name only when the Parliament is in session, her own occupation of the berth as well as that of her two sons, was held illegal. — PTI

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Polio drops replace ‘charnamrit’
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, April 20
It is no longer a celebrity campaign against polio in Bihar. Known for its penchant for innovations, the Nitish government has now roped in Hindu priests to administer polio drops to children after 11 fresh polio cases reported from different parts of the state of a total 31 in the country in first three months of 2007.

Subsequently, health officials trained hundreds of priests to give polio drops to immunise children across the state. The officials approached various muslim organisations too for removing the religious stigma in a section of the minority on polio drops who considered such drops could affect the fertility of their kids.

Following health department's decision to bank on religious leaders, people in Patna and other places were surprised to see Hindu priests in temples were blessing their children with polio drops instead of traditional holy water or fruits in the latest round of polio drops held this week.

A senior official argued that the government thought of involving temple priests and muslim clerics because people trust and listen to them. Besides, the move was aimed at eradicating polio by 2007 after the efforts by celebrities like Jackie Shroff, Shekhar Suman, Farooque Shaikh and the local media seemed to be insufficient in controlling the increasing number of polio cases in Bihar.

Bihar had emerged as the second highest polio affected state in the country in last year too after Uttar Pradesh by recording 61 cases of a total 522. It was learnt that various wrong notions on polio drop, like this could lead to impotency, left 0.17 per cent of the total 2.1 million children in the state out of the drive in recent past.

The Muslim organisations involved in the awareness campaign included Imarat-e-Sharia,Anjuman Islamia and Silsila.

The communications consultant of Unicef in Bihar Srinath said it was more important to ensure that not a single was left out than how many were covered.

 

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