SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

RSS calls Sikhism a separate religion in ‘Hindu samaj’
Vajpayee wants to quit active politics

New Delhi, May 2
The RSS has described the Sikh faith as a separate religion belonging to “one great Hindu samaj”. In a view that may not go well with the BJP’s ally Akali Dal, the Sangh says it sees a “problem” if minorities assume a “political” character.

US pressure on N-deal, gas pipeline irk Left
New Delhi, May 2
Left parties today asked the UPA government to stick to its commitment to Parliament on the Indo-US nuclear deal, saying that bowing to US pressure would not only threaten the country's energy sovereignty but also political independence.

BJP, SP mull over Jharkhand model in UP
New Delhi, May 2
The BJP and the Samajwadi Party are seriously pondering over adopting the Jharkhand model for Uttar Pradesh to stop BSP leader Mayawati from assuming power in the state in case of a hung Assembly following the election results.




EARLIER STORIES



Traders from the Indian side fill forms for their fresh travel passes on the Indo-China border at Nathu La pass in the presence of industry department officials on the first day of the reopening of the border after eight months.
Traders from the Indian side fill forms for their fresh travel passes on the Indo-China border at Nathu La pass in the presence of industry department officials on the first day of the reopening of the border after eight months. — PTI
Army tanks line up for action during the military exercise “Ashwamedh” in Pallu district of Bikaner in Rajasthan on Wednesday.
Army tanks line up for action during the military exercise “Ashwamedh” in Pallu district of Bikaner in Rajasthan on Wednesday. — PTI

Sabarimala temple
Women can’t be allowed entry, SC told
New Delhi, May 2
The management of Sabarimala temple in Kerala in its response to the Supreme Court notice on denial of permission to women to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine has emphatically said that such relaxation cannot be permitted as it was purely an issue of religious faith and no legal right was attached to it.

Nandigram: HC directs govt to file status report
Kolkata, May 2
The CBI has said it was unable to come to conclusion whether the use of force in Nandigram, scene of protests against land acquisition move, on March 14 was justified even as the Calcutta High today asked West Bengal government to place before it tomorrow a status report on the situation there.

Rs 48 lakh, laptop recovered
Top UNLF ultra arrested in Guwahati

Guwahati, May 2
What is construed to be a major blow to the banned United National Liberation Front (UNLF), a Manipur based separatist militant outfit, the police apprehended its general secretary Narengbam Marjit, alias Thabal, alias Iboyaima, here today and recovered about Rs 48 lakh from his possession.

Furnish documents about exporters, CIC tells ministry
New Delhi, May 2
The central information commission has directed the external affairs ministry to furnish details about its correspondence with the Indian Embassy in Russia on export operations of V.N. Thakur, an Indian national, leading to a revenue intelligence inquiry against him.

Gujral reveals confidential talks with Sharif on Kashmir
New Delhi, May 2
Former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral said this evening that his confidential one-to-one talks with the then Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had put talks on the Kashmir problem in the right perspective.

Panel to iron out differences with JD(S): BJP
Bangalore, May 2
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today tried to diffuse a political crisis in Karnataka by announcing that a Coordination Committee would meet in two days to iron out any existing differences. The crisis arose after former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda accused the BJP of breaking the coalition ‘dharma.’

Murli Deora calls for sustainable world oil prices
New Delhi, May 2
Union petroleum minister Murli Deora has emphasised the need for sustainable international oil prices stating that high oil prices are neither in the interest of oil importing countries nor beneficial to the exporting nations.

After 2 days, temperatures expected to rise
New Delhi, May 2
North India today experienced the much-needed respite from scorching heat with light rains and cool winds bringing down temperatures in the region. As per the Met office, changed wind patterns and light rains cooled Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, east Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, bringing down maximum and minimum temperatures below normal.

Ensure high polling in remaining phases: BJP
New Delhi, May 2
The BJP today asked the election commission to ensure higher percentage of polling in the remaining two phases of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections by allowing the electorate to caste votes on the basis of recognition of a voter by a polling agent, which is not challenged by any other party.

Sibal fires another salvo at non-Cong govts in UP
New Delhi, May 2
Congress leader and union minister Kapil Sibal today fired another salvo alleging a multi-crore scam in fertiliser subsidies during the non-Congress governments in Uttar Pradesh accusing them of “systemically looting” the state.

Bose threatens to quit as front chief
Kolkata, May 2
Left front chairman Biman Bose, who is also the CPM secretary in Bengal, has threatened to resign from the chairman’s post in the wake of the controversy over the Nandigram issue vis-ŕ-vis the state’s land-use policy for industries.

Chennai airport ready for diverted Lanka flights
Chennai, May 2
The international as well as domestic airport here is on full alert and geared up to receive flights, which might be diverted from Colombo following the continuing air raids conducted by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka.

Qayyum, Advani discuss Kashmir
New Delhi, May 2
Former Pok president and Prime Minister Mohammad Abdul Qayyum today met leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha L.K. Advani and Centre’s interlocutor on Jammu and Kashmir N.N. Vohra to discuss ways to strengthen the peace process.

Amit Jogi surrenders
Raipur, May 2
Amit Jogi, son of former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi, today surrendered following the Supreme Court order cancelling his bail in connection with the murder of NCP state treasurer Ram Avtar Jaggi in June 2003.

Summons against Shilpa, five others
Ghaziabad, May 2
A city court today summoned Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty and five TV channel owners for appearance on May 8 in connection with the kissing controversy involving Hollywood star Richard Gere.

Graft case: Details sought from MEA
New Delhi, May 2
The central information commission (CIC) has directed the external affairs ministry to furnish details about its correspondence with the Indian Embassy in Russia on export operations of V.N. Thakur, an Indian national, leading to a revenue intelligence inquiry against him.



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RSS calls Sikhism a separate religion in ‘Hindu samaj’
Vajpayee wants to quit active politics

New Delhi, May 2
The RSS has described the Sikh faith as a separate religion belonging to “one great Hindu samaj”.

In a view that may not go well with the BJP’s ally Akali Dal, the Sangh says it sees a “problem” if minorities assume a “political” character.

Spelling out its stand on minorities on its Website rss.org under a mission header, it says it believes the Hindu Code Bill is applicable to Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists and that it should be applicable to all, including the Christians and the Muslims.

“The RSS believes in the plural structure of society”.

Therefore, it recognizes that there is bound to be a majority-minority syndrome, and hence each group, whether in the majority or minority, will have a distinct identity and distinct character,” it says.

But minorities, according to the Sangh, should restrain themselves from overstepping their basic character.

Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who addressed an election rally in Uttar Pradesh in the fourth phase of the Assembly poll, has expressed his desire to quit active politics, RSS mouthpiece ‘Panchjanya’ has said.

“Relieve me of active politics. It’s enough, let me go,” the editorial in the latest issue of the weekly journal has quoted him as saying before joining the BJP’s campaign in UP.

He gave his consent to campaign after a lot of effort, Panchjanya said, describing him a rare ‘pragya purush’ (man of high intellect) in India’s political tradition.

Almost two years after RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan’s comments that both Vajpayee and senior BJP leader L.K. Advani were too old to lead the party, the Sangh organ now wrote that mere presence of the former PM in electoral scene had triggered massive confidence and hope. — PTI

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US pressure on N-deal, gas pipeline irk Left

New Delhi, May 2
Left parties today asked the UPA government to stick to its commitment to Parliament on the Indo-US nuclear deal, saying that bowing to US pressure would not only threaten the country's energy sovereignty but also political independence.

Referring to the lingering difficulty being faced by top Indian officials of India and the US to iron out differences, the top leaders of the CPI and CPM said this development could easily be anticipated in the backdrop of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's commitment to safeguard national interests in Parliament.

Top officials of India and the US met in Washington yesterday to iron out differences that have been nagging the talks for the past few months.

India’s instance on the right to reprocess spent nuclear fuel and perennial cooperation even if it were to conduct an atomic test are among the differences the two sides are reportedly seeking to wriggle out of.

CPI leaders A.B. Bardhan and Shamim Faizi said the reports about hurdles in reaching the 123 agreement was not surprising at all. “Actually, if India sticks to the assurance made by the Prime Minister in Parliament, the US will find it difficult to conclude the pact.”

CPM veteran and politburo member M.K. Pandhe said that India could never agree to the condition that they would not conduct an atomic test.

He also emphasised that if the deal did not go through, India had nothing to lose.

Forward Bloc national secretary G. Devrajan said that India's moratorium in this connection is “voluntary” but the US wanted to make it compulsory.

On the reported US pressure to stall the India-Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline, the Left parties stressed that India should continue its efforts to make the trilateral pact a reality.

“India’s energy requirements badly need the pipeline project to be completed,” Bardhan and Faizi said, adding that this was possible if there was no outside pressure.

The CPI leaders said the top US officials opposed India joining such a venture. “Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, has even threatened India of dire consequences if it goes ahead with the gas pipeline project,” they added. — UNI

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BJP, SP mull over Jharkhand model in UP
Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 2
The BJP and the Samajwadi Party are seriously pondering over adopting the Jharkhand model for Uttar Pradesh to stop BSP leader Mayawati from assuming power in the state in case of a hung Assembly following the election results.

Sources said Chief Minister Mulayam Singh and BJP chief ministerial candidate Kalyan Singh, both of whom nurse a strong grudge against Mayawati, are thinking of propelling a neutral person as Chief Minister and then extending outside support to that government as has been the case in Jharkhand where the Congress and the RJD have lent an outside support to Chief Minister Madhu Koda.

This operation, “Stop Mayawati”, has the sanction of BJP President Rajnath Singh, the sources said.

This would not only help Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav to retain his Muslim support base but would also help the BJP and the SP to retain their respective core constituencies, a senior BJP leader from UP said.

The “Stop Mayawati” operation is expected to be launched immediately after the declaration of the UP Assembly election results, which is expected to throw up a hung Assembly once again with no party having an absolute majority.

The SP and the BJP are expected to emerge with at least 100 seats each and neither of the two would be in a position to form a government on their own, thus leading to this arrangement, the sources said.

Indications were that RLD leader Ajit Singh or Apna Dal leader Sonelal Patel or even a Muslim face may be projected as Chief Minister of the state with outside support of the BJP and the SP.

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Sabarimala temple
Women can’t be allowed entry, SC told
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, May 2
The management of Sabarimala temple in Kerala in its response to the Supreme Court notice on denial of permission to women to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine has emphatically said that such relaxation cannot be permitted as it was purely an issue of religious faith and no legal right was attached to it.

The entry of young women - whose age is to be determined by the “Thanthri (high priest)” of the temple - beyond a point towards the sanctum sanctorum had been in vogue for a long time. According to the present Thantri, who had been at the helm of affairs, women of the age of 10 to 50 were prohibited from entering the temple even before 1950, the temple management in its reply said.

The bar on the entry of women in the temple has been challenged in the apex court by Indian Young Lawyer’s Association, terming it as a discrimination against the women. The petitioner have sought lifting of the ban.

Such a restriction imposed by the Devaswom Board of the temple “is not violative of Article 15, 25 and 26 of the Constitution.The petitioner had invoked the provisions of these Articles to make a case for entry of women in the temple. The Articles deal with religious and racial discrimination and freedom of religious practice.

Several women’s organisations and prominent personalities, including Kanada actress Jaymala had raised the issue of ban on entry of women in the temple.

Jaymala had ,in fact, revealed that she was some years back allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum by the temple authorities, creating a major controversy on it.

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Nandigram: HC directs govt to file status report

Kolkata, May 2
The CBI has said it was unable to come to conclusion whether the use of force in Nandigram, scene of protests against land acquisition move, on March 14 was justified even as the Calcutta High today asked West Bengal government to place before it tomorrow a status report on the situation there.

In its report submitted to the High Court, the CBI said “it would be possible to ascertain the quantum of force used and its justification and the actual happenings only in a thorough and detailed investigation.”

Stating that it could not carry out a detailed investigation due to time crunch, the CBI said its team had confined its inquiries to the mandate given by the court.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice S.S. Nijjar and Justice P.C. Ghose, after going through the report, read out one paragraph in the open court while directing that the rest of it would remain under sealed cover till further direction.

The high court, a day after 14 persons were killed in Nandigram, had directed the CBI to inquire. The agency had submitted its report on March 22.

Advocate Kalyan Banerjee, appearing for one of the several petitioners in the case, submitted that the situation in Nandigram was volatile and that one person had been killed and some others injured in fresh clashes last Sunday.

NANDIGRAM: Gunshots were fired and a house set ablaze in villages here as clashes between Marxist and Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh Committee supporters erupted on Wednesday.

Shots were fired at Chatingabari, Kamalpur, Dakapara villages forcing about 100 people to leave their homes for safety, a PTI correspondent on the scene said.

A house, belonging to a CPM supporter, was also set on fire at Satengobari. None was injured in the clashes and arson. — PTI

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Clashes again in Nandigram

Nandigram, May 2
Gunshots were fired and a house set ablaze in villages here as clashes between Marxist and Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh Committee supporters erupted today.

Shots were fired at Chatingabari, Kamalpur, Dakapara villages forcing about 100 people to leave their homes for safety, a PTI correspondent on the scene said.

A house, belonging to a CPM supporter, was also set on fire at Satengobari. None was injured in the clashes and arson. — PTI

 

 

Rs 48 lakh, laptop recovered
Top UNLF ultra arrested in Guwahati

Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, May 2
What is construed to be a major blow to the banned United National Liberation Front (UNLF), a Manipur based separatist militant outfit, the police apprehended its general secretary Narengbam Marjit, alias Thabal, alias Iboyaima, here today and recovered about Rs 48 lakh from his possession.

In another operation, the police arrested four other militants belonging to the proscribed People’s Liberation Army (PLA), a Manipur based militant group, from a hotel at Fancy Bazar in the city late last night. There were at least two senior leaders of the outfit among them.

A team of special commandos of the Manipur police in coordination with the Assam police swooped down on the hideout of the top UNLF militant leader at Panjabari area in the city to arrest him.

The police recovered a laptop, several incriminating documents besides Rs 48 lakh in cash from the militant.

The UNLF general secretary is one of the top five most wanted militant leaders from northeast. On the basis of the recovery of huge amount of cash, the police claimed that the militant was masterminding extortion operation in Manipur by staying in the city.

The police said, on occasions, the UNLF leader asked victims to come over to Guwahati to pay the money demanded by the outfit.

The UNLF, which is alleged to have camps in Myanmar and Bangladesh, is waging war against the state, demanding a sovereign state for Manipuris.

Assam’s populous capital city have become a favourite hiding place for militants from Manipur.

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Furnish documents about exporters, CIC tells ministry

New Delhi, May 2
The central information commission (CIC) has directed the external affairs ministry to furnish details about its correspondence with the Indian Embassy in Russia on export operations of V.N. Thakur, an Indian national, leading to a revenue intelligence inquiry against him.

The commission, while hearing an RTI application of the aggrieved Indian exporter V.N. Thakur facing inquiry of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), asked the ministry to place before it by May 30 all documents including correspondence between Russian Customs and the Indian embassy there.

"The commission agrees that the documents including the correspondence with the Russian customs may be placed before it in the first instance, which may then take a decision on whether this could be disclosed," information commissioner O.P. Kejariwal said in a recent decision.

The DRI, which had initiated a probe into the alleged discrepancy in the export operations of Thakur came under the RTI lens after the commission suspected corruption in the whole issue.

"The present case concerns the correspondence the Indian Embassy, Russia, had with the DRI. From the two letters presented before the commission, the stand taken by the MEA seemed to be self-contradictory and hence the commission feels there may be a case of corruption involved in the whole issue," it said. — PTI

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Gujral reveals confidential talks with Sharif on Kashmir
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 2
Former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral said this evening that his confidential one-to-one talks with the then Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had put talks on the Kashmir problem in the right perspective.

Gujral said during his talks with his Pakistani counterpart on the sidelines of SAARC summit at Male (Maldives), Sharif told him: “I can’t take Kashmir from you, I know. You can’t give Kashmir to me, that also I know. But what is the harm in talking on the subject?”

Gujral, giving his keynote address at Pramod Mahajan Conclave on “Bipartisan politics for growth”, narrated another anecdote when Sharif was Pakistan’s PM and he was no longer Indian PM. This what Gujral said: “Mianji called me and said he wanted to consult me. I told him that I am no longer the PM of India and you should consult the Indian PM (Atal Bihari Vajpayee). He said he would talk to the Indian PM later. He asked me that you have made nuclear tests and we have also made nuclear tests, now what?”

The former Indian PM said he told Sharif that both India and Pakistan needed to take lesson from history that the British empire swelled as Indians fought among themselves. Against this backdrop, Gujral advised Sharif that the two neighbours should never let a third person mediate in their bilateral disputes.

“Sharif kept quiet for some time and then said ‘Tussi gal to theek kehde ho’ (You are saying the right thing),” Gujral said.

He concluded his speech by saying that the sensitivity of Indo-Pak could never be understood by the outsiders. To drive his point home, he recited a couplet from a Pakistani poet: “Is raaz ko kya samjhein, sahilon ke tamashaee; hum doob ke samjhe hain, darya ki gehrai” (What does a bystander on the river bank know of this secret? We have learnt about the depth of the river after getting drowned.)

In another important speech at the conclave, Pakistan’s former cabinet minister Mushahid Hussain gave ample indications of a developing rapprochement between Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and Opposition parties when he paid tributes to Gen Musharraf for showing “courage, flexibility and statesmanship” in mending relations with India.

Hussain said three recent developments proved that a “sea change” had come about in Indo-Pak relations: (i) there was no blame game between the two countries in the wake of the Samjhauta Express link train blasts; (ii) increasing cooperation between the two countries on war against terror and an awareness that terrorism was not an issue linked with religion; and (iii) the resolve of Pakistan and India to go ahead with the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline which he described as “a peace pipeline”.

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Panel to iron out differences with JD(S): BJP
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, May 2
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today tried to diffuse a political crisis in Karnataka by announcing that a Coordination Committee would meet in two days to iron out any existing differences. The crisis arose after former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda accused the BJP of breaking the coalition ‘dharma.’

Senior BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, while reacting to Gowda’s remarks, said the former Prime Minister had made a good suggestion by asserting that coalition partners stick to joint principles. He said the statement had made it easier for both parties to sit together and sort out shortcomings, if any.

Yediyurappa, however, maintained that this would be a two-way street with both parties discussing issues in a spirit of cooperation. He said he would meet Chief Minister H.D. Kumara-swamy today to fix the schedule for the meeting of the committee.

The BJP leader maintained that the JD(S) would stick to the power-sharing formula worked out with the party, under which, each party would head the government for 20 months each. He said any speculation on this account was being spread by the Congress, despite the fact that Kumaraswamy had categorically stated that he would stick to this understanding.

Speaking about the Vikas Yatra conducted by the party, he said he did not think it should be an issue for discord with the JD(S). “We conducted the yatra to strengthen the BJP in the state and it was an internal matter of the party.” Yediyurappa, however, said his party was ready to correct any “mistake” which might have been committed during the yatra.

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Murli Deora calls for sustainable world oil prices
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 2
Union petroleum minister Murli Deora has emphasised the need for sustainable international oil prices stating that high oil prices are neither in the interest of oil importing countries nor beneficial to the exporting nations.

Addressing the second Ministerial Energy Roundtable of Asian Oil Producing and major Asian Oil Importing Countries at Riyadh today, he referred to the three-fold increase in global oil prices between 2000 and 2006.

High oil prices leads to a fall in demand by encouraging conservation and technological innovations and makes alternative investments for energy attractive besides putting strains on the resources of oil importing developing countries, an official release issued here said.

He called for evolving appropriate policy reforms and practical measures to ensure that the prices remain stable and affordable in the long run.

On the sidelines of the Roundtable, Deora met Iranian oil minister Seyed Kazem Vaziri Hamaneh and Pakistani petroleum minister Amanullah Khan Jadoon to discuss cooperation in the hydrocarbon sector including the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project.

In the meeting with the Iranian minister, Deora discussed the vexed issue of the LNG contract as a follow-up of their last meeting in Tehran. It may be recalled that Deora had recently returned from his tour of Iran where he had discussed the IPI project and the Indo - Iran LNG contract for five million tonnes which was signed in June 2005 at Tehran.

Deora also had a bilateral meeting with Iraqi oil minister Hussain Al-Shahristani and raised the issue of moving forward with OVL’s participation in Iraq’s upstream oil sector. The Iraqi minister invited IOCL and EIL to consider participation in the downstream sector of Iraq in particular for construction of oil refineries.

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After 2 days, temperatures expected to rise
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 2
North India today experienced the much-needed respite from scorching heat with light rains and cool winds bringing down temperatures in the region. As per the Met office, changed wind patterns and light rains cooled Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, east Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, bringing down maximum and minimum temperatures below normal.

The Met office has predicted the cool pleasant situation to continue for the next 48 hours because weather models suggest a rise in temperatures for the subsequent two days after May 5.

But as on date, cool breeze and slight drizzle brought respite to people. Much to the relief of people, the maximum temperatures in the region experienced a welcome dip of around four to six degrees.

Rains and hailstorms lashed parts of Himachal Pradesh early today. Heavy rains followed by hailstorms lashed Shimla and surrounding areas, cooling the state capital that had been recording temperatures of over 25°C during the past two days. In fact, the continuing dry weather in the state had pushed maximum and minimum temperatures four to five degrees above normal, with Una and Bilaspur recording temperatures close to 40 degrees in the past few days.

Light rains and strong breeze brought down temperatures in several parts of west Uttar Pradesh, including Agra, much to the delight of tourists. In Delhi, temperatures settled at a comfortable 27.4°C this morning. Most cities, including Chandigarh, recorded below normal temperatures.

The weathermen add that upper air circulation due to low pressure areas over the north-west is the primary reason for the pleasant weather condition over north-west and central India.

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Ensure high polling in remaining phases: BJP
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 2
The BJP today asked the election commission to ensure higher percentage of polling in the remaining two phases of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections by allowing the electorate to caste votes on the basis of recognition of a voter by a polling agent, which is not challenged by any other party.

Addressing newspersons at the party headquarters, senior BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu, who is the party in charge of the UP election, said a substantial percentage of voters who do not either possess the photo-identity cards or not have other prescribed documents, should be allowed to participate in the electoral exercise.

The responsibility of ensuring voters’ participation is not only of the residents themselves but also of the election commission and the political parties, he said and stressed the importance of a vote.

Answering questions on the state of BJP-JD (S) ruling alliance in Karnatka, Naidu said there was no threat to the government and the alliance was running smoothly.

He lashed out at the Congress for highlighting fake encounter in Gujarat and putting the blame on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

The Congress would have to pay a heavy price for this kind of approach, he added.

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Sibal fires another salvo at non-Cong govts in UP

New Delhi, May 2
Congress leader and union minister Kapil Sibal today fired another salvo alleging a multi-crore scam in fertiliser subsidies during the non-Congress governments in Uttar Pradesh accusing them of “systemically looting” the state.

“The systematic loot of UP is not related to scandals that have emerged during the Chief Minister Mulayam Singh’s regime. Successive administrations since Yadav first became chief minister in 1989 have looted the state”, he told reporters.

He alleged that false claims for subsidy were made by fertiliser units in the state between 1994-2000 and the successive governments during this period failed to conduct inquiries as requested by the Centre.

In a writ petition filed in Allahabad High Court in Sept 2003, the Union of India, in an affidavit, admitted that about Rs 200 crores were misappropriated in this fashion, he said.

“This, of course, is in the absence of a full-fledged inquiry in respect of all 29 units. The misappropriation might have run into more than Rs 1,000 crores had such an inquiry been made in respect of all the units”, Sibal said.

Asked if there was any nexus among the successive governments led by the SP, the BSP and the BJP, Sibal said “It is a complete nexus...That is why they are not raising any such issues. The BSP and the BJP are not talking about land scam”. — PTI

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Bose threatens to quit as front chief
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, May 2
Left front chairman Biman Bose, who is also the CPM secretary in Bengal, has threatened to resign from the chairman’s post in the wake of the controversy over the Nandigram issue vis-ŕ-vis the state’s land-use policy for industries.

The opposition and the front partners, including the CPI, the RSP and the Forward Bloc (FB) have been objecting to this policy.

Bose told mediapersons that some of their ally leaders were openly criticising the land-use policy and were lobbying against the Chief Minister. These leaders were also frequently attacking front leaders and even questioning his (chairman’s) sincerity in solving the Nandigram problem, Bose alleged.

The front chairman said since the partners had lost confidence in him, he should better resign. He said he would ask the front at its forthcoming meeting on May 7 to accept his resignation. Bose was aggrieved that the front partners were forming an alternative mini-front against the CPM.

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Chennai airport ready for diverted Lanka flights
Arup Chanda

Tribune News Service

Chennai, May 2
The international as well as domestic airport here is on full alert and geared up to receive flights, which might be diverted from Colombo following the continuing air raids conducted by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka.

Following the LTTE’s threat to carry out more air raids in Sri Lanka, a crisis looms large, as many Colombo bound flights are likely to be diverted here.

The Air Traffic Control (ATC) and Airports Authority of India (AAI) officials, who control ground operations, have been alerted to handle flight diversions, takeoffs, landings and flight parking if Colombo airport is suddenly closed.

In case of a crisis at the Colombo airport, ATC personnel here will have to inform aircraft headed to Colombo via Chennai airspace. They will also check available airspace to facilitate diversions and allow unscheduled landings in Chennai.

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Qayyum, Advani discuss Kashmir
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 2
Former Pok president and Prime Minister Mohammad Abdul Qayyum today met leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha L.K. Advani and Centre’s interlocutor on Jammu and Kashmir N.N. Vohra to discuss ways to strengthen the peace process.

Sources said Advani told Qayyum that national security concerns had to be respected and militancy had to end in efforts to find solution to Kashmir problem. The BJP leader said it was the NDA government that had initiated bold steps to address various dimensions of the problem and improve relations with Pakistan.

In his meeting with Vohra, Qayyum talked about steps to improve people-to-people contact and start trade between the two parts of the state.

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Amit Jogi surrenders

Raipur, May 2
Amit Jogi, son of former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi, today surrendered following the Supreme Court order cancelling his bail in connection with the murder of NCP state treasurer Ram Avtar Jaggi in June 2003.

The accused surrendered before additional district and sessions judge B.L. Tidke, who is hearing the case. He has been remanded to judicial custody.

Amit was in judicial custody for about ten months after being arrested by the CBI that named him the prime accused. The Chhattisgarh High Court granted him bail in May last year and in pursuance of bail orders, he was released from the Raipur Central Jail. — UNI

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Summons against Shilpa, five others

Ghaziabad, May 2
A city court today summoned Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty and five TV channel owners for appearance on May 8 in connection with the kissing controversy involving Hollywood star Richard Gere.

Beena Chaudhry, Chief Judicial Magistrate, Ghaziabad city, issued the summon on a PIL filed by Rookan Pal Singh, former president of Bar Association.

Singh, who filed the petition on April 17, complained that Richard Gere’s kiss on Bollywood actress Shetty’s cheeks during an anti-AIDS awareness programme in Delhi was an “indecent representation” of sexual activities in a public place. — PTI

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Graft case: Details sought from MEA

New Delhi, May 2
The central information commission (CIC) has directed the external affairs ministry to furnish details about its correspondence with the Indian Embassy in Russia on export operations of V.N. Thakur, an Indian national, leading to a revenue intelligence inquiry against him.

The commission, while hearing an RTI application of the aggrieved Indian exporter V.N. Thakur facing inquiry of the DRI, asked the ministry to place before it by May 30 all documents including correspondence between Russian Customs and the Indian embassy there. — PTI

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