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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE
TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Mudigonda Police Firing
Protests greet PM in AP

Hyderabad, July 31
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today had a taste of the Opposition outrage over the Mudigonda police firing that has put his party government in Andhra Pradesh in a bind. As Manmohan Singh arrived here on a day-long visit to review the state government’s performance in key sectors, the political temperature went up by a notch with the Left parties hitting the streets with a protest rally while Telugu Desam Party chief N. Chandrababu Naidu sat on a token fast to draw the Prime Minister’s attention to the brutal firing incident.

Dowry case against Arjun
UP recommends CBI probe 

Lucknow, July 31
The Uttar Pradesh government has recommended a CBI probe into the dowry case against union HRD minister Arjun Singh, his son and five other family members.


EARLIER STORIES


SC notice on bail plea of Mumbai blast convict woman
New Delhi, July 31
Taking into consideration the abnormally long delay on the part of special TADA judge P.D Kode in coming out with a reasoned judgement in the Mumbai bomb blast case, the Supreme Court today admitted a bail application by a 64-year-old woman sentenced to five years imprisonment.

SC hearing on quota  on Aug 7
New Delhi, July 31
A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, set up by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan to examine the entire gamut of the new law and the 93rd Constitutional amendment, will now decide the government application for vacation of the stay on the OBC reservation in central education institutions.

Rail ticket counters at post offices now
New Delhi, July 31
In an attempt to augment passenger earnings from remote corners of the country, the railways has decided to set up passenger reservation system (PRS) counters in post offices offices.

 
Bapu manuscript returns home
New Delhi, July 31
The seven-page manuscript Mahatma Gandhi wrote for his publication Harijan is finally here in India. The much-in-news document was today handed over to the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) for preservation.







Dr Karan Singh, president of ICCR, shows the letter of Mahatma Gandhi, which was recently brought from London, before handing it over to Jitendra Desai, managing trustee of Navjivan Trust, in New Delhi on Tuesday. — Tribune photo by Manas Ranjan Bhui 
Dr Karan Singh, president of ICCR, shows the letter of Mahatma Gandhi, which was recently brought from London, before handing it over to Jitendra Desai, managing trustee of Navjivan Trust, in New Delhi

Physically challenged vendors attempt suicide
Lucknow, July 31
Shocking insensitivity to physically challenged street side vendors during an anti-encroachment drive in the Gurubagh area of Varanasi today led to a dozen-odd such vendors reportedly attempting suicide by consuming poison.

Truce with Naga rebels extended
Guwahati, July 31
The Centre and the Naga rebel group, Nationalist Socialist Council Nagalim-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM), today decided to extend the 10-year-old truce “indefinitely subject to the progress of peace talks”.

Bus service between India, Myanmar soon
New Delhi, July 31
India is soon going to start a direct bus service between Indian border town of Moreh in Manipur and Myanmar’s second largest city, Mandalay.

Maya denies reports of BSP-UPA alliance
Lucknow, July 31
Dismissing media reports as “misleading and baseless” Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati has clarified that her party has no intention to join the UPA government at the Centre “at present or at any future date”

Flood-hit Assam mulls R&D wing
Guwahati, July 31
Caught off guard by the devastating floods that have so far affected over 44 lakh people from 24 out of the total 27 districts in the state, the Assam government has decided to set up a research and development wing to find ways for flood moderation.

CBI probe into FCI official’s death
Guwahati, July 31
The Assam government announced its decision to opt for a CBI investigation into the abduction and death of the Food Corporation of India executive director (North-east) Dr P.C. Ram.

MoU to boost migration to EU
New Delhi, July 31
The ministry of overseas Indian affairs and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) today signed an MoU for the project “Regional Dialogue and Facilitating Managed and Legal Migration between Asia and the European Union”.

Goa CM meets Shivraj Patil
New Delhi, July 31
A day after he won a trust vote under questionable circumstances, Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamat brought his flock of legislators to Delhi today and met union home minister Shivraj Patil to apprise him of the developments in his home state.

New envoy to Australia
New Delhi, July 31
Sujatha Singh, presently joint secretary in the ministry of external affairs, has been appointed as the next high commissioner of India to Australia, the ministry announced today. — TNS

 
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Mudigonda Police Firing
Protests greet PM in AP
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, July 31
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today had a taste of the Opposition outrage over the Mudigonda police firing that has put his party government in Andhra Pradesh in a bind.

As Manmohan Singh arrived here on a day-long visit to review the state government’s performance in key sectors, the political temperature went up by a notch with the Left parties hitting the streets with a protest rally while Telugu Desam Party chief N. Chandrababu Naidu sat on a token fast to draw the Prime Minister’s attention to the brutal firing incident.

The significance of the Prime Minister’s engagement, the first in the series of state-specific reviews being planned by him, was overshadowed by the grim aftermath of the firing as the opposition parties kept up their offensive against the Rajasekhar Reddy government.

Accompanied by his party MPs, MLAs and MLCs, Naidu undertook the fast at Indira Park in protest against the July 28 firing at Left supporters that left seven persons dead.

He also trained his guns at the Prime Minister for his failure to visit Mudigonda to console the families of firing victims.

In a letter to Manmohan Singh, the TDP chief demanded Chief Minister’s resignation, institution of a judicial inquiry by a sitting High Court judge and the filing of criminal cases against the guilty policemen.

“This brutal killing is worse than the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. The Chief Minister has no moral right to continue in office even for a minute,” Naidu said and wondered why Congress president Sonia Gandhi was maintaining silence in the face of growing public outrage over the incident.

Pointing out that there had been five cases of police firing during the last three years of the Congress rule leading to the death of 23 persons, he urged the Prime Minister to ask Reddy to step down forthwith owning moral responsibility.

Coinciding with the Prime Minister’s visit, a large number of activists of the nine Left parties, including CPM and CPI, took out a rally from the Old MLA Quarters at Hyderguda to submit a memorandum to Manmohan Singh who was holding a review meeting with the state officials at Jubilee Hall.

However, the police prevented the agitators from proceeding to the venue.

The state units of both the Left parties held a meeting here and vowed to intensify their “Bhooporatam” (land struggle).

It was during the state-wide bandh, called by them on Saturday last, that the violence broke out at Mudigonda in Khammam district leading to police firing.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister held a six-hour long review of the state’s performance in a myriad sectors, including agriculture, irrigation, infrastructure, transport and industrial development.

While appreciating the government’s initiatives in core sectors, Manmohan Singh asked the administration to prepare district-wise agriculture plans for availing additional central assistance.

The meeting was attended by union ministers P. Chidambaram and Sharad Pawar, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy, his Cabinet colleagues and senior officials. 

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Dowry case against Arjun
UP recommends CBI probe 
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, July 31
The Uttar Pradesh government has recommended a CBI probe into the dowry case against union HRD minister Arjun Singh, his son and five other family members.

A formal letter has already been dispatched, confirmed secretary of the home department Renuka Kumar this evening. “The letter was sent last evening. I should know as I had signed the letter,” said Kumar.

Speaking to The Tribune, Kumar dismissed the view appearing in a section of the Press that the state government had put the ball in the central government’s court by recommending the transfer of the probe to the CBI.

“The case was referred to the central investigating agency as all persons named in the FIR were not living in Uttar Pradesh. This was an inter-state matter which the CBI is competent to handle”, she said.

On the directives of the additional chief judicial magistrate of Moradabad, a case against the union minister and his family members was registered at the Chandausi police station on Sunday night.

The FIR filed by Raja of Naurali Mandhvendra Singh, who is the father-in-law of Arjun Singh’s grandson, Abhijit, charges the minister and his family of harassing Priyanka, his daughter and Abhijit’s wife, of harassment for dowry.

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‘Unfair to drag him into this’
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 31
The minister for women and child development, Renuka Chowdhary, said today that it was unfair to drag human resource development minister Arjun Singh into the dowry harassment case filed by his grand daughter-in-law, Priyanka Singh.

A Moradabad court had last week asked the police to register a case against Arjun Singh and his family on the basis of a complaint by Priyanka Singh’s father Maghvendra Singh.

Reacting to reports about the UP government’s inclination to recommend a CBI inquiry into the charges of dowry harassment against the minister, Renuka said, “This is not fair at all. When Arjun Singh did not even attend the marriage, how can you charge him”.

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SC notice on bail plea of Mumbai blast convict woman
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 31
Taking into consideration the abnormally long delay on the part of special TADA judge P.D Kode in coming out with a reasoned judgement in the Mumbai bomb blast case, the Supreme Court today admitted a bail application by a 64-year-old woman sentenced to five years imprisonment.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice K.G Balakrishnan, issued notice to the CBI, the prosecuting agency in the case, to submit its reply within three weeks to the bail petition filed by Zaibunnisa Anwar Kazi.

The Supreme Court, taking cognizance of Zaibunnisa’s bail petition, was being keenly observed by the lawyers of actor Sanjay Dutt, sentenced to six years imprisonment under the Arms Act by the TADA court today. They see it as a positive development to move the apex court to try for the bail of the Bollywood film star as early as possible.

Zaibunnisa’s counsel Sushil Kumar, made a special mention of her bail application before the court in the afternoon, stating that though her conviction was pronounced by the special judge in his main judgement in November, she had not been provided with the copy of the verdict till date.

The order sentencing her to five years imprisonment under Section 5 and 6 of TADA for abetting the crime was pronounced in June.

Zaibunnisa, who was on bail for the past 13 years, was sent to jail after the verdict on her sentence was pronounced in June.

Sushil Kumar said though his client wanted to challenged her conviction and the sentence in the apex court, she could not do so as the main judgement had not been made available to her even after eight years.

Taking this fact into consideration the apex court should at least issue a notice on the bail petition, her counsel requested the court, which was initially reluctant to issue the notice.

Zaibunnisa was the first accused in the Mumbai blast case to come for bail in the Supreme Court. The appeal against the judgement of the special TADA court only lies with the apex court under the now repealed TADA.

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SC hearing on quota  on Aug 7
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 31
A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, set up by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan to examine the entire gamut of the new law and the 93rd Constitutional amendment, will now decide the government application for vacation of the stay on the OBC reservation in central education institutions.

It was a disappointing development for the government which was hoping of a hearing on its application today as it wanted earlier decision on it with making a plea that the IITs, IIMs, NITs and other institutions be permitted it to admit OBC students under the 27 quota scheme from the current academic session, which has already started.

However, a Bench of Chief Justice Balakrishnan and Justices R.V. Raveendran and Dalveer Bhandari said the Centre’s application would now be heard by the Bench, scheduled to commence hearing from August 7.

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Rail ticket counters at post offices now
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 31
In an attempt to augment passenger earnings from remote corners of the country, the railways has decided to set up passenger reservation system (PRS) counters in post offices offices.

The facility will be introduced in a phased manner and begin from 30 post offices, including those located in Dwarka, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon, Panchkula and Noida.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) in this regard was signed here today by A.K. Goyal, additional member (commercial), Railway Board, and S. Samant, chief general manager, department of posts.

Speaking on the occasion, railway minister Lalu Prasad said the joint endeavour of the ministries of railways and communications and information technology was to enable persons living in remote areas buy tickets from post offices close to their homes. He also sought the cooperation of the communication and IT minister, A. Raja, to provide facility for issuing unreserved tickets at the post offices.

In the first phase, reserved tickets will be available in some post offices including Mangalodoi in Assam, Anjaw in Arunachal Pradesh, Deogarh in Jharkhand, Poonch in Jammu and Kashmir, Jowai in Meghalaya, Bishnupur and Senapati in Manipur, Champhai in Mizoram, Phulbani and Sundergarh in Orissa, Puskar in Rajasthan and Auraiya, Greater Noida Alpha and Kavinagar, Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh.

As per the MoU, the department of posts referred to as India Post will issue reserved railway tickets through the computerised PRS counters set up by the railways at post offices. 

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Bapu manuscript returns home
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 31
The seven-page manuscript Mahatma Gandhi wrote for his publication Harijan is finally here in India. The much-in-news document was today handed over to the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) for preservation.

The document was acquired by Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) director-general Pawan Verma from UK-based auction house Christie’s on July 3 on the behalf of the Indian government for about 18,500 pounds.

At a simple ceremony in the Capital today, the manuscript was first handed over by ICCR president Dr Karan Singh to managing trustee of the Ahmedabad-based Navjeevan Trust Jitendra Desai.

The Navjeevan Trust, who as per Gandhi’s will is the copyright holder of all his writings, in turn handed over the handwritten article on Hindu-Muslim unity to NMML director Mridula Mukherjee.

The rare document in English, written by Gandhi 19 days before his assassination for Harijan on January 11, 1948, speaks on pluralism ethos of Indian culture, especially in context Urdu language. “It says Urdu is not just the language of Muslims, there is a need for others to learn it as well. In the same article, Gandhi has also urged the Muslims to learn other languages,” Verma explained.

Verma, who brought the document on behalf of the government for 15,000 pounds, says an additional 3,000 to 3,500 pounds was paid as taxes and commission to the auction house.

Interestingly, along with the much-in-news document, Christie’s also handed over a letter written by the father of the nation to his friend Khambatta. As per Verma, the letter in Gujarati was handed over by the auction house free of cost.

The one-page letter in Gujarati was written on May 20, 1935, and is generally about acknowledging cheques he received, besides inquiring about Khambatta’s health, Desai added.

Regarding why the government could not have taken legal recourse, he said the manuscript was of public importance and anybody could have bid for it. “Legal proceedings would have taken a long time and already too many national treasures have been taken away from the country. We didn’t want that to happen with this document. It was a precious document penned by the father of the nation that should be with India. ICCR’s Nehru center in London negotiated with Christie’s on behalf of the government and the auction house agreed to withdraw it from the auction,” he said.

Gandhi’s manuscript was in news after it was put up for auction on July 3. The Indian government swung into action after protests from Gandhi followers and charted out the plan to acquire the letter with barely a few days to go for a rare document to go under the hammer. 

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Physically challenged vendors attempt suicide
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, July 31
Shocking insensitivity to physically challenged street side vendors during an anti-encroachment drive in the Gurubagh area of Varanasi today led to a dozen-odd such vendors reportedly attempting suicide by consuming poison.

While one of them died, two others are battling for their lives. The remaining vendors are recovering in the ICU of Heritage Hospital in Varanasi, confirmed home department sources.

A magisterial probe by ADM (city) Indra Vikram Singh has been ordered into the incident.

Rajesh Maurya alias Radhey died during the course of treatment at the district hospital, said home department secretary Renuka Kumar.

According to Renuka, on July 28 the Varanasi district administration had assured the physically challenged road-side vendors of a rehabilitation plan for them in the event of the removal of their shops under the anti-encroachment drive being carried out by the Varanasi Nagar Nigam (VNN).

Earlier in the day around 12 physically challenged vendors in the Gurubagh area under Luxa police station reportedly led by locals Namo Narain Upadhayay and Raju Bengali attempted to draw attention to the issue.

An FIR has been filed against Upadhyay and Bengali for abetting suicide, said Kumar.

Giving a curious twist to the episode, Renuka Kumar said initial investigations had revealed that some members of the electronic media were also instrumental in provoking the physically challenged vendors to take this extreme step.

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Truce with Naga rebels extended
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, July 31
The Centre and the Naga rebel group, Nationalist Socialist Council Nagalim-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM), today decided to extend the 10-year-old truce “indefinitely subject to the progress of peace talks”.

The extension of the ceasefire comes into effect from tomorrow with the expiry of current extension today.

It was informed through a joint communique signed by NSCN-IM general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah and Government of India interlocutor K. Padmanabhaiah following a marathon round of negotiation at the Dimapur Circuit House today.

The communique states that the negotiation was held in a cordial atmosphere with free and friendly exchange of views. The NSCN-IM, lead by its chairman Isak Chisi Swu and Muivah, expressed that people in Nagaland were concerned for an early conclusion of the ongoing peace negotiation with the Centre.

Both sides agreed to strengthening the monitoring mechanism to ensure that the ground situation remains conducive for the continuance of ceasefire.

The Centre was represented at the negotiation by the chairman of the Group of Ministers, union minister of state Oscar Fernandez along with K. Padmanabhaiah and senior officials of the home ministry and the Intelligence Bureau.

Reacting to the decision on “indefinite extension of the truce, the Naga Ho Ho, the apex civil society group in Nagaland, hoped that it would put more pressure on both the NSCN-IM and the Centre to find a peaceful solution to state problem.

“We apprehend that indefinite extension of the ceasefire means it may break down if there is no progress in peace talks,” P. Chuba Ozukujm, the publicity secretary of Naga Ho Ho said over the phone from Dimapur. 

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Bus service between India, Myanmar soon
Rajeev Sharma/TNS

New Delhi, July 31
India is soon going to start a direct bus service between Indian border town of Moreh in Manipur and Myanmar’s second largest city, Mandalay.

India so far has bus and train links with two of its neighbours, Pakistan and Bangladesh, while with Nepal, a hassle-free, sans-passport travel regime is firmly in place for decades. A bus service with China and a ferry service with Sri Lanka are in the pipeline. A rail link with Bhutan is being readied, a move that would take the railways to Bhutan for the first time.

India and Myanmar have cleared the Moreh-Mandalay bus link in principle. Though minister of state for commerce Jairam Ramesh, during his visit to Moreh in September, 2006, gave the green signal to the proposed bus service, the project got mired as the Myanmarese authorities failed to respond to India’s proposal then.

The bus service, which is part of the proposed Trans-Asia Highway and Trans-Asian Rail link, would take Myanmarese traders and tourists from Mandalay only 12 hours to reach the Indian border town. The proposed bus link between Moreh and Mandalay will be a boon to thousands of Burmese Buddhists on pilgrimage to Bodh Gaya every year.

A ministerial team, along with officials, is expected to visit Mandalay next month to study the ground situation.

The Moreh-Mandalay bus service has been one of the major demands of the Indo-Myanmar Border Traders Union. For the early inauguration of the Moreh-Mandalay bus service, the Centre has asked the Manipur government to give it an update of the 'Moreh-Mandalay' highway's condition.

Ministries of external affairs, home affairs and surface transport have sought a report on the condition of the road as well as the potential of the bus service. They have also asked for detailed information about security on the Imphal-Moreh sector of the highway.

The MEA has certain reservations about the bus service between the two countries due to security reasons. In order to discuss and sort out the main problems, a joint meeting of traders, transporters, police and officials of the Tourism Department was held in the chamber of Manipur transport minister Lanpoklakpam Jayentakumar on July 23 in Imphal where the minister asked officials, traders and transporters to compile a final draft report in a week's time for submission to the ministries concerned in New Delhi.

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Maya denies reports of BSP-UPA alliance

Lucknow, July 31
Dismissing media reports as “misleading and baseless” Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati has clarified that her party has no intention to join the UPA government at the Centre “at present or at any future date”

In a press statement issued by the central unit of the BSP chief minister Mayawati said to “keep communal forces at bay my party had decided to give outside support to the UPA which it is still continuing.”

She categorically stated that even in May 2004, BSP did not have any intention of becoming an alliance partner of the UPA. “Nor does it have any such plan at present or any future date”, she stated in the release. — TNS

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Flood-hit Assam mulls R&D wing
Bijay Sankar Bora/TNS

Guwahati, July 31
Caught off guard by the devastating floods that have so far affected over 44 lakh people from 24 out of the total 27 districts in the state, the Assam government has decided to set up a research and development wing to find ways for flood moderation.

CM Tarun Gogoi today said the devastating spell of floods this year, which have claimed 15 lives in the state so far besides inundating 5.35 lakh hectares of land, had compelled the state government to set up a separate R&D wing on floods under the department of science and technology.

The R&D wing would be entrusted with the task of sustained research with a focus on tendency of major rivers in the state to change their courses to find ways to moderate floods in the state.

“The state government will also set up a State Waterways Authority in the line of British Waterways Authority to find measures for flood mitigation,” Gogoi said.

The Assam government has sent SOS to the union petroleum minister requesting additional allotment of kerosene oil for distribution among flood-hit. Given the grim situation, the state government has authorised all district magistrates to hire services of choppers for air dropping of foodstuff.

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CBI probe into FCI official’s death
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, July 31
The Assam government announced its decision to opt for a CBI investigation into the abduction and death of the Food Corporation of India executive director (North-east) Dr P.C. Ram.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi today announced his government’s decision to recommend investigation by the CBI into the kidnapping and subsequent death in crossfire of the FCI official while in custody of his abductors from the proscribed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA).

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MoU to boost migration to EU
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 31
The ministry of overseas Indian affairs and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) today signed an MoU for the project “Regional Dialogue and Facilitating Managed and Legal Migration between Asia and the European Union”.

The salient features of the project are: (a) Specific activities to be undertaken to enhance the capacity of the ministry to assess and respond to the manpower needs in the EU. (b) To enhance cooperation between India and the EU countries in the field of migration management and to educate potential migrants about the opportunities in the EU, the migration procedures at both ends and the risks involved in deviating from these procedures.

The EU states, covered under the project, are Germany, the UK, Ireland, Spain and Italy.

Secretary of the ministry Nirmal Singh and director-general of the IOM Brunson McKinley signed the MoU here in the presence of minister for overseas Indian affairs Vayalar Ravi.

The project is aimed at facilitating development of legal migration, enhancing regional cooperation on legal migration management, reducing irregular migration, enhancing placement capacity amongst recruiting agencies and dissemination of information relating to employment opportunities and procedures to intending emigrants.

The objectives of the project are in harmony with goals of the ministry in management of migration of Indian workers for overseas employment. The project will result in capacity augmentation in India for reaping the demographic dividends of emerging employment opportunities in the EU countries.

At present most skilled and semi-skilled workers from India migrate to the Gulf countries. The project will facilitate diversification of the migration process to a region where the future is likely to throw up major opportunities.

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Goa CM meets Shivraj Patil
Anita Katyal/TNS

New Delhi, July 31
A day after he won a trust vote under questionable circumstances, Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamat brought his flock of legislators to Delhi today and met union home minister Shivraj Patil to apprise him of the developments in his home state.

Kamat told mediapersons later that he narrated the sequence of events to the minister which culminated in yesterday’s floor test. The Chief Minister denied reports about his resingation, saying there was no reason for him to step down as he had followed all democratic norms and rules, adding that he lost no time in following the Governor’s instructions by agreeing to an immediate floor test.

He also disagreed with the Opposition charge that the Speaker had shown his partisanship by not allowing three MLAs to vote. Kamat explained that disqualification notices were pending against two MGP legislators and a Congress MLA Vicotria Fernandes adding that the Speaker has quasi judicial powers which were exercised by him. “He is perfectly right in giving this judgement” said Kamat.

Lashing out at the BJP for describing the floor test as “murder of democracy”, Kamat said the saffron party had hatched a conspiracy to destablise his government.

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