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N A T I O N

Presidential Poll
UPA, NDA start garnering support

New Delhi, June 16
With the Election Commission issuing the notification for the Presidential poll today, the Congress-led UPA and the NDA, with the BJP in the vanguard, stepped up the campaign to garner support of the regional and other smaller parties and groups.

Poll on July 19
Race for Rashtrapati Bhawan begins
New Delhi, June 16
The race for President’s post formally started today with the Election Commission issuing a notification for the July 19 election.

Pratibha meets PM, Sonia
New Delhi, June 16
Rajasthan Governor Pratibha Devisingh Patil, who is UPA’s candidate in the Presidential elections, said today her nomination for the top post reflected the respect women get in India and it would further encourage them.

Shekhawat calls on Pratibha
New Delhi, June 16
Unmindful of protocol, Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, who is likely to contest the Presidential election as an Independent, met the UPA-Left nominee for the post, Rajasthan Governor Pratibha Patil here today.



EARLIER STORIES


President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam interacts with wives of farmers at Yavatmal during his whirlwind tour of Maharashtra
President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam interacts with wives of farmers at Yavatmal during his whirlwind tour of Maharashtra on Friday. — PTI

Arya Samaj preacher also in race
New Delhi, June 16
As filing of nominations opened for the Presidential election, an Arya Samaj preacher from the capital on Saturday threw his hat in the ring for the race to Raisina Hill. Ram Kishen Mital, who is physically handicapped, came in a wheel chair to Parliament House complex to file the document, Lok Sabha officials said.

CPMT Irregularities
VC’s office sealed, re-evaluation ordered
Lucknow, June 16
Cracking the whip on those responsible for alleged irregularities in the results of the Uttar Pradesh Combined Pre-Medical Test Chief Minister Mayawati today ordered the sealing of the office and residence of Veer Bahadur Singh Purvanchal University vice-chancellor which had conducted the examination this year.

IIM sanctioned for Andhra
Hyderabad, June 16
The Centre has sanctioned Indian Institute of Management for Andhra Pradesh, fulfilling a long-pending demand of the state. The announcement was made by union minister for human resource development Arjun Singh here today.

UN resolution a proud moment for India: PM
International Non-Violence Day on Gandhiji's birthday
New Delhi, June 16
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has welcomed the UN resolution declaring Mahatma Gandhi's birthday on October 2 as the International Day of Non-Violence describing it as a “proud moment for India”.
In video (56k)

Antony admits to problems in Gorshkov deal
New Delhi, June 16
Defence minister A.K. Antony today admitted that there were some problems in the deal with Moscow on the acquisition of the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov but hoped that they would be sorted out soon.

India for equitable growth opportunity
New Delhi, June 16
While calling for urgency in dealing with the critical issues related to climate change, India said the global debate should harmonise equitably the imperatives of development in the emerging economies and sustainable development.

Errant Bihar minister apologises
Patna, June 16
After initially denying any misbehaviour with the widow of a government employee seeking a job for her son, Bihar Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh today apologised for his action.

Six hurt in violence at Nandigram
Kolkata, June 16
At least six persons were injured in an exchange of fire that took place between workers and supporters of the CPM and the Krishi Bachao Committee at Nandigram today. The police also fired several rounds to disperse the two warring groups.
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Gujjar violence: Two Collectors transferred
Jaipur, June 16
Collectors of Dausa and Karauli, two of the most affected districts during the Gujjar agitation, have been transferred. The roles of Dausa Collector H K Damor, Karauli Collector K K Pathak and SP Prafull Kumar and Baran Collector Navin Jain were questioned during the week-long agitation, which shook the desert state over Gujjars demanding Scheduled Tribe status.

12 Mehdi followers held
Raisen (MP) June 16
Twelve persons, who were arrested yesterday for tutoring Muslim youths to wage a holy war, are followers of the controversial Mehdi sect, which believes that the 'prophet' would come to this world again when injustice increases.

SC orders relief for Tsunami victims
New Delhi, June 16
As thousands of tsunami victims in Andaman Nicobar islands were crying for the restoration of basic amenities ahead of monsoon not provided to them even after two-and-half-years of the tragedy.

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Presidential Poll
UPA, NDA start garnering support
Tribune News Service

  • PM meets SP's Amar Singh.
  • NDA convener meets SP leaders seeking their support.
  • Third Front of regional parties to meet in Chennai on Monday to decide on their Presidential nominee.

New Delhi, June 16
With the Election Commission issuing the notification for the Presidential poll today, the Congress-led UPA and the NDA, with the BJP in the vanguard, stepped up the campaign to garner support of the regional and other smaller parties and groups.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had a meeting with Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh in an effort to mobilise support for the UPA-Left nominee Pratibha Patil.

Amar Singh called on Dr Singh here and was with him for about 30 minutes. The talks assume significance ahead of the conclave of the recently launched Third Front of regional groupings. The SP is a constituent of the Third Front which is scheduled to meet in Chennai to announce their Presidential nominee.

Amar Singh told mediapersons that the issue of extending support to Pratibha Patil did not figure in his discussions with the Prime Minister. He disclosed that the Prime Minister had a telephonic conversation with SP Chief and former UP Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav seeking their party's support for the candidature of Pratibha Patil.

While acknowledging that the individual opinion of the Third Front will be meaningless to the election of a President, Amar Singh spoke of the decision necessarily being collective.

The Third Front is expected to meet in Chennai on Monday.

Simultaneously, NDA convener George Fernandes met SP leaders, including Yadav, and is believed to have sought their support for Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, who is expected to contest for the highest constitutional office in the country as an independent.

While former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar, in a statement yesterday, underlined the need for all political parties and groups to support the candidature of Shekhawat, Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy said the tendency to have, what he categorised as, a “rubber stamp” President should be done away with. Under the circumstances, he underlined in a statement today, there was need to have an independent and seasoned politician in Rashtrapati Bhawan as the Head of State and the best nominee in this regard “could be none other than Shekhawat”, he added.

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has been authorised by the constituents of the NDA to choose their nominee for the high office of President. He rejected the appeal of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi to support Pratibha Patil’s candidature on the ground that the UPA had not even consulted them on the issue before announcing the name of the Rajasthan Governor as its nominee.

Considering that the UPA has the support of Mayawati’s BSP for its nominee, it is expected to sail through in the Presidential poll fixed for July 19. Pratibha will be the fourth woman to contest the presidential elections.

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Poll on July 19
Race for Rashtrapati Bhawan begins
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 16
The race for President’s post formally started today with the Election Commission issuing a notification for the July 19 election.

Rajasthan Governor Pratibha Patil is the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) candidate for president while Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat is expected to be fielded as the NDA-backed Independent nominee.

It seems almost certain that voting will go ahead as the ruling coalition and the Opposition have not agreed on a consensus candidate.

All Presidential elections had so far witnessed a contest except in 1977 when Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy was elected unopposed. Only the first President Rajendra Prasad held the office twice - in 1952 and 1957.

Last time too, there was a contest when A P J Abdul Kalam won with a thumping majority against the Left parties’ joint candidate Lakshmi Sehgal.

With the issue of notification, the filing of nominations began from today and go on till June 30. The scrutiny will take place on July 2 and the last date for withdrawal of nomination is July 4.

Counting of votes is scheduled for July 21, three days before incumbent Kalam demits office.

Lok Sabha secretary general P.D.T Achary has been appointed Returning Officer for the election.

The president is elected by an Electoral College of MPs and elected members of state legislatures. 776 MPs, including 543 from Lok Sabha, and 4,120 MLAs from various states, including Delhi and Puducherry, constitute the Electoral College whose total vote value comes to 10,98,882 votes.

The ruling UPA-Left has got over 513,000 votes while the Opposition NDA has over 354,000 votes. The eight regional parties that recently got together, comprising the Third Front, account for 105,000 votes.

The nominated members of Parliament and state assemblies are not eligible to vote.

A nomination paper of a candidate for the election has to be proposed by at least 50 electors and seconded by an equal number. An elector can propose or second only one candidate.

The security deposit for the election is Rs 15,000, which is required to be paid along with the nomination papers.

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Pratibha meets PM, Sonia
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 16
Rajasthan Governor Pratibha Devisingh Patil, who is UPA’s candidate in the Presidential elections, said today her nomination for the top post reflected the respect women get in India and it would further encourage them.

Soon after her arrival in the Capital this morning, Patil met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi at her 10 Janpath residence and discussed matters relating to the presidential election.

She later met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Patil told mediapersons at the airport that her candidature for the top post was a big step for women. “I am very happy to be selected as the UPA candidate. This shows that India has a lot of respect for women,” she said.

She said her candidature would inspire other women and help in their empowerment but this would not come automatically and they would have to work for it. Asked about the women’s reservation bill, Patil said Parliament would decide about it.

Defence minister A.K. Antony, Sonia Gandhi and her political secretary Ahmed Patel were present during Patil’s meeting at 7,RCR, with the Prime Minister.

AICC sources said Patil was likely to file her nomination either on June 23 or June 25 after resigning as Governor. They said lists were being prepared of 50 MPs, who would propose her name and 50 MPs who would support her candidature.

Dr Manmohan Singh, Gandhi and senior leaders of the UPA and Left parties are likely to be among those who would propose the name of Patil.

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Shekhawat calls on Pratibha

New Delhi, June 16
Unmindful of protocol, Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, who is likely to contest the Presidential election as an Independent, met the UPA-Left nominee for the post, Rajasthan Governor Pratibha Patil here today.

Shekhawat surprised everyone by going to Jodhpur House to meet Patil. The Vice-President was accompanied by party colleague and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje in the meeting that lasted 20 minutes.

Also present in the meeting was minister of state in PMO Prithviraj Chauhan. Shekhawat, after the meeting, did not wait to talk to the reporters.

He brushed aside the mikes of the waiting electronic media and refused to take any questions. One of the questions being put to him was whether he had blessed Patil for the election.

Patil, whose name was announced as the UPA-Left nominee for the top post on Thursday and who arrived in the capital today, had sought an appointment with Shekhawat.

Both Patil and Shekhawat share excellent personal relations. — PTI

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Arya Samaj preacher also in race

New Delhi, June 16
As filing of nominations opened for the Presidential election, an Arya Samaj preacher from the capital on Saturday threw his hat in the ring for the race to Raisina Hill.

Ram Kishen Mital, who is physically handicapped, came in a wheel chair to Parliament House complex to file the document, Lok Sabha officials said.

Mital, who is a resident of Arya Samaj (Jorbagh), however, did not deposit Rs 15,000 security money.

Each nomination paper has to be signed by 50 proposers and 50 seconders, but Mital did not have the backing of any member of the electoral college of MPs and MLAs.

Asked on what basis the paper was allowed to be filed, Lok Sabha Secretary General-cum-Returning Officer P D T Achary told PTI that since the document carried a certificate showing that the candidate is a voter in a particular constituency, he was permitted to submit the form.

The Election Commission on Saturday issued a notification formally setting in the process for motion the July 19 Presidential election.

As per the poll schedule, filing of nominations will continue till June 30. The scrutiny will take place on July two and the last date for withdrawal of nomination is July four. Counting of votes is scheduled for July 21, three days before incumbent A P J Abdul Kalam demits office.

The UPA-Left combine has decided to field Rajasthan Governor Pratibha Patil while Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat is expected to be the NDA-backed independent candidate. — PTI

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CPMT Irregularities
VC’s office sealed, re-evaluation ordered
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, June 16
Cracking the whip on those responsible for alleged irregularities in the results of the Uttar Pradesh Combined Pre-Medical Test (CPMT) Chief Minister Mayawati today ordered the sealing of the office and residence of Veer Bahadur Singh Purvanchal University vice-chancellor which had conducted the examination this year.

Minister for medical education Lalji Verma stayed the counselling of the newly selected students and ordered the re-evaluation of the answer sheets.

Following orders from the CM’s office, Jaunpur ADM later this evening sealed the residence of vice-chancellor K.P. Singh as well as the examination control room where all relevant documents relating to the examination have been stored.

Keeping a close eye on the violent incidents following the declaration of the CPMT results, Mayawati had asked the principal secretary, medical education, to brief her on the developments.

A three-member probe team is expected to arrive in Jaunpur on Sunday to investigate the charges of irregularities.

The team includes special secretary, medical education S.K. Raghuvanshi, director general medical education Dr Kamal Sahni and NIC technical director S.F.A. Naqvi. Other experts accompanying the team include UP Technical Education University registrar U.S. Tomar. Three experts from New Delhi are also expected to join the team.

Chief Minister Mayawati has asked the team to submit its report by Monday following which she has assured to take the strictest steps against those found guilty.

On the eve of the arrival of the probe team, K.P. Singh admitted to some “technical faults” in the computer programming in the coding of the different set of questions that may have resulted in some irregularities.

In a press note today, the VC tried to wriggle out of the messy situation by claiming that the faulty computer programming was “unintentional”.

As reports of violent protests by students across the state kept pouring in, Verma, in a late night decision, ordered the stalling of counselling and the reevaluation of answer sheets.

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IIM sanctioned for Andhra

Hyderabad, June 16
The Centre has sanctioned Indian Institute of Management (IIM) for Andhra Pradesh, fulfilling a long-pending demand of the state.

The announcement was made by union minister for human resource development Arjun Singh here today.

“In this plan period, AP will have an IIM,” Singh said after inaugurating the South Central regional centre of All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

The union minister was responding to CM Y. S Rajasekhar Reddy’s request for setting up the prestigious management institution in the state in view of the growing demand for quality education. — TNS

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UN resolution a proud moment for India: PM
International Non-Violence Day on Gandhiji's birthday
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 16
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has welcomed the UN resolution declaring Mahatma Gandhi's birthday on October 2 as the International Day of Non-Violence describing it as a “proud moment for India”.

In a statement today, the PMO said Dr Singh expressed happiness that henceforth the United Nations will observe Gandhi Jayanti, October 2, as International Day of Non-Violence each year following a unanimous decision of the General Assembly of the UN yesterday.

"It is a great tribute to Mahatma Gandhi."

Dr Singh noted that “this decision originates in a declaration of the International Conference on Peace, Non-Violence and Empowerment: Gandhian Philosophy in the 21st Century convened in New Delhi in January this year commemorating the centenary of the Satyagraha Movement launched by Mahatma Gandhi.”

“This is also an occasion for all of us, the people of India, to rededicate ourselves to the ideals and values of Mahatma Gandhi, which shall continue to be our guiding light,” the Prime Minister added.

The resolution by India was co-sponsored by 142 countries.

The resolution calls upon all member states, the UN system, regional and non-governmental organisations to commemorate October 2 in an “appropriate manner and disseminate the message of non-violence including through education and public awareness.”

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Antony admits to problems in Gorshkov deal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 16
Defence minister A.K. Antony today admitted that there were some problems in the deal with Moscow on the acquisition of the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov but hoped that they would be sorted out soon.

He was interacting with mediapersons after inaugurating the building of the Central Research Laboratory of Bharat Heavy Electricals near here.

While India has asked Russia to ensure the timely delivery of Admiral Gorshkov which has been rechristened as INS Vikramaditya as the existing aircraft carrier INS Viraat’s life-cycle was at its fag end, Russia has been demanding more funding from New Delhi for the retro-fitment of the 44,500 tonne warship, which is originally scheduled for delivery by August next year. As a result of the delays, the aircraft carrier is expected to be delivered in 2010.

Antony has also written to his Russian counterpart Anatoly Serdyukov seeking his personal intervention in the matter as INS Viraat is due for decommissioning and the dispute over funding was holding back the retro-fitment work.

Antony will also visit Moscow in October to attend the seventh meeting of the Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation.

Antony also said that the request for proposal (RFP) for the acquisition of 126 fighters by the Indian Air Force would be issued soon.

When asked specifically whether the RFP document would be issued next month, he said that while the time limit for this was two to three months, it may come any time.

Asked about Sri Lanka’s request for the supply of Indian radars to help them in their fight against LTTE, the minister said it was being looked into. India believed in the sovereignty, unity and integrity of Sri Lanka, he said adding that the ultimate solution to the ethnic problem has to be a political solution.

To a question on reports about construction of bunkers by Pakistan across the border, Antony said that we are not aware of any such construction.

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India for equitable growth opportunity
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 16
While calling for urgency in dealing with the critical issues related to climate change, India said the global debate should harmonise equitably the imperatives of development in the emerging economies and sustainable development.

Ashwani Kumar, minister of state for industries, during his meeting with US Vice-President Al Gore, on the margins of the UBS CEO’s Summit in Florence, Italy, said, “The terms of the debate and the idioms of the dialogue should not be such as to unjustifiably transfer the major burden of sustainable development on developing countries”.

An official release quoting the minister issued here said there could be no difference of opinion as to the urgency of addressing critical issues related to climate change.

Al Gore agreed with the minister and also expressed willingness to visit India to engage with all stakeholders on various issues and challenges related to climate change and sustainable development, particularly taking into consideration the situation in India, it said.

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Errant Bihar minister apologises

Patna, June 16
After initially denying any misbehaviour with the widow of a government employee seeking a job for her son, Bihar Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh today apologised for his action.

“If my action has hurt anyone, I am making a public apology.” he said, a day after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar ordered clearing the dues of the widow’s husband and a job to one of his dependents within a week.

Narendra Singh had touched off a controversy by reportedly shoving Akelo Devi in full public view on Thursday when the latter had approached him, complaining about non-payment of her husband’s dues and seeking a job for her son on compassionate ground.

Devi is the widow of Radhe Singh, an employee of Rajendra Agriculture College at Sabaur in Bhagalpur district who died a couple of years ago.

“In my long political career, I have always fought for the rights of depressed sections and women, I never intended to show any disrespect to her or insult her,” Singh told PTI.

Though Singh had initially denied any insult to the woman, news channels beamed the footage of him pushing the widow, triggering strong protest by the RJD. — PTI

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Six hurt in violence at Nandigram
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, June 16
At least six persons were injured in an exchange of fire that took place between workers and supporters of the CPM and the Krishi Bachao Committee at Nandigram today. The police also fired several rounds to disperse the two warring groups.

According to reports reaching Kolkata today from Nandigram, the trouble started after the kidnapping of four Krishi Bachao Committee members who were returning from a market in the adjoining Tekhali village.

Soon, a large number of people gathered near the Tekhali market and attacked the local CPM office and set fire to some houses which belonged to CPM supporters.

Afterwards, the two rival groups of people armed with pipe-guns, revolvers and other lethal weapons were involved in a pitched battle in which there were exchanges of bullets and brickbats, and bombs were thrown. The police arrived on the spot and they too became a target of attack. But the situation was soon controlled by the police.

Interestingly, CPM party secretary Biman Bose was in Midnapore district when the incident occurred. But he did not visit the disturbed area.

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Gujjar violence: Two Collectors transferred

Jaipur, June 16
Collectors of Dausa and Karauli, two of the most affected districts during the Gujjar agitation, have been transferred.

The roles of Dausa Collector H K Damor, Karauli Collector K K Pathak and SP Prafull Kumar and Baran Collector Navin Jain were questioned during the week-long agitation, which shook the desert state over Gujjars demanding Scheduled Tribe status.

Sources say that the state government was not satisfied with their performance during the caste clamour.

The transfer list includes seven IAS officers and three IPS officers.

Rajesh Yadav has been made the new Collector of Dausa, Krishan Kunal took charge as Collector of Karauli as K K Pathak was transferred yesterday. Govind N Purohit has been made the new SP of Karauli.

Pritam Yashwant has been made the new Collector of Baran. — UNI

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Instigating for ‘jehad’
12 Mehdi followers held

Raisen (MP) June 16
Twelve persons, who were arrested yesterday for tutoring Muslim youths to wage a holy war, are followers of the controversial Mehdi sect, which believes that the 'prophet' would come to this world again when injustice increases.

One of the arrested, Mohammed Shakil, claimed that he was Mehdi and would become omnipotent in a few years.

A section of Muslims believe in Mehdi, a concept not universally accepted in Islam because of its radical beliefs.

''During interrogation, the accused denied instigating Muslim youths for waging a holy war or meeting Al Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden,'' Additional Superintendent of Police (Intelligence) Surendra Singh said here.

Prima facie, the case did not appear to be part of a major terrorist conspiracy.

Meanwhile, Mateen Khan and Athar Mohammed had claimed that the accused were motivating them for 'jehad' and taking them to New Delhi. — UNI

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SC orders relief for Tsunami victims
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, June 16
As thousands of tsunami victims in Andaman Nicobar islands were crying for the restoration of basic amenities ahead of monsoon not provided to them even after two-and-half-years of the tragedy, the Supreme Court has taken a serious view of the authorities’ lackadaisical approach and issued a series of directions to firm up the relief measures.

In an interim order on an appeal by social organisation ‘Kranti’, taking up the cause of the “harassed” victims of the Andaman Nicobar islands, the court took note of the fact that a large chunk of tsunami affected population was facing numerous problems.

Taking into account the problems being faced by the inhabitants, a Bench of Justices C.K. Thakker and Altamas Kabir in a recent order, directed that the island administration under Lt-Governor would take immediate steps to arrange for the construction of tanks collecting rain water during monsoon in all islands to meet the drinking water needs of the people as the natural water sources had been destroyed.

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