SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Rahul, I have no magic wand: Sonia
New Delhi, November 17
Delivering a stern message to party men against infighting and speaking out of turn, Congress president Sonia Gandhi today warned them against airing views different from the party’s official stand on an issue.

Remembering Gandhi, endorsing Rahul
New Delhi, November 17
Gandhi was clearly the flavour of the season at the day-long AICC session today. The stated purpose of the meeting was to dedicate it to Mahatma Gandhi and his ideals on the completion of 100 years of satyagraha.


Gandhi and Gandhi:
AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi addresses a meeting at Talkatora Stadium in New Delhi on Saturday. — Tribune photo by Mukesh Aggarwal

AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi addresses a meeting at Talkatora Stadium in New Delhi


EARLIER STORIES


Held ultras had Rahul in mind
Lucknow, November 17
Three Jaish-e- Mohammad (JeM) militants arrested in Lucknow have said on camera that they were planning to ‘kidnap’ young Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and claimed they were doing so on the directions of “people in Pakistan” to secure the release of 42 prisoners.

AICC Session
Left, Karunanidhi in the line of fire
New Delhi, November 17
Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh steered clear of taking on the allies in their speeches at the AICC session today but the omnibus resolution adopted at the meeting did not hesitate to criticise the UPA government’s coalition partners.

CBI probe into Nandigram firing
Budha govt to move SC
Kolkata, November 17
The state government will go to the Supreme Court against the Calcutta High Court’s ruling ordering a fresh CBI probe into the March 14 Nandigram incident. Chief Justice S.S. Nirjjar’s division Bench, including Justice Pinaki Ranjan Ghose, declared in its judgement yesterday that the police firing in Nandigarm on March 14 killing 14 persons was unjustified and unconstitutional.

Four women seek protection from HC to convert to Islam
Chennai, November 17
Four young women have sought protection from the Madras High Court from their parents and the Tamil Nadu police who were preventing them to convert to Islam. Three sisters and one of their friends from Aiyampettai, a Muslim-dominated village in Thanjavur district, in a joint petition to the high court stated that their parents were threatening them and had even sent the local police here to compel them to return home.

3 of family attempt suicide, 2 die
Surat, November 17
A father and a daughter died when a family of three, attempted suicide by consuming poison in Varachcha Road area of the city here last evening, the police said today. The deceased have been identified as Kailash Lashkari (30) and his daughter Rinkal (3), while his wife Kavita (27) is battling for her life in a civil hospital.

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Rahul, I have no magic wand: Sonia
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 17
Delivering a stern message to party men against infighting and speaking out of turn, Congress president Sonia Gandhi today warned them against airing views different from the party’s official stand on an issue.

In her remarks at the AICC session, Sonia dwelt at considerable length on organisational issues and sought cooperation of party leaders in meeting the challenges ahead.

“I and Rahul Gandhi do not have a magic wand. The goals will be achieved through your cooperation,” she said. While Sonia’s inaugural address was more directed at the Congress leaders in party-ruled states, her remarks at the conclusion of the session were mainly aimed at the partymen in opposition ruled states.

Pointing out that the electoral challenge was getting tougher by the day, she said politics in the country was witnessing change and the party needs to respond in time and effectively.

On coalitions, she said that it meant constructive cooperation from all partners but it did not mean the party losing its political space. “I accept this (coalition) is a balance and a political challenge. But it is my definite view that we should take the party to its pre-eminent position,” she said.

With the several assembly polls to slated in the next year and Lok Sabha elections scheduled for 2009, Gandhi spoke about the outcome of the assembly polls held after the Hyderabad plenary, saying that the party had not been able to turn people’s goodwill into votes. “This is true of Uttar Pradesh. We have lost there and need to build party anew from the grassroots,” she said, adding that the party had to meet tough challenges in Bihar, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal by working hard.

Apparently referring to Punjab and Uttarakhand, Gandhi said that in some states the party had lost only due to infighting and it had to be careful not to repeat such mistake in the states where it has clear chance of winning.

She said that making people feel positive difference in their lives could prevent anti-incumbency.

Lauding Gandhian ideals, Congress president said these were under attack in his home state of Gujarat. “We must be in forefront to combat those who subvert Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy and seek to rewrite his life’s works and accomplishments,” she said.

Her words were also seen to be aimed at BSP chief Mayawati who, in her recent remarks, had sought to deny Mahatma Gandhi credit for empowerment of Dalits.

Hitting out at the BJP, Gandhi said that the UPA government had restored pride of place in governance to country’s age-old secular values and traditions.

Lauding the fast rate of economic growth and other achievements of the UPA government, she said it was all the more creditable in the face of “stubbornly uncooperative attitude” of the BJP in Parliament. “No words are strong enough to condemn the BJP’s attacks on our Prime Minister and our party,” she said.

Listing the work done by the UPA government for the weaker sections and people living in rural areas, she said it was Congress tradition to stand by the poor and weak.

While reiterating the need of better coordination between the government and party in the Congress-ruled states, the Congress president told ministers to visit party offices during their tours.

She said party men, who had been made ministers had a special responsibility as they had been given an opportunity to work when there were other capable people. “They should be answerable to workers,” she said.

She also spoke of the need of promoting leaders who show results. “There is need to build the party in a new way by linking rewards to work and performance.”

In an apparent reference to the recent furore in the party over ASI’s controversial affidavit in the Sethsamudram issue, Gandhi said that party men should refrain from airing individual views till the party makes its stand clear.

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Remembering Gandhi, endorsing Rahul
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

Pitching for Youth

Focusing primarily on the youth, Rahul Gandhi made a strong pitch for making the Congress relevant to young Indians and ‘meritocratic’ in which progress was linked to performance along with accountability

New Delhi, November 17
Gandhi was clearly the flavour of the season at the day-long AICC session today.

The stated purpose of the meeting was to dedicate it to Mahatma Gandhi and his ideals on the completion of 100 years of satyagraha. However, the unofficial reason was to showcase party heir-apparent Rahul Gandhi as a youth icon and the future leader of the Congress.

Almost on cue, party cadres raised a noisy demand for Rahul Gandhi’s speech as soon as the session got underway. This demand reached a crescendo when there was no sign of the Congress scion till late afternoon even though the cadres had been assured that he would address them after lunch. A delegate from Orissa was drowned with “Rahul lao” chants and it was only when Congress president Sonia Gandhi intervened that she was allowed to complete her speech.

But for all their protests and anticipation, Sonia’s intervention was all too brief and was over even before it had begun. Before Gandhi junior took the floor, the cadres greeted him with thunderous claps but by the time he finished, the applause was decidedly feeble and the slogan-shouting non-existent.

Unlike his speech at the Hyderabad plenary session, Rahul stuck an entirely different note this time. Focusing primarily on the youth, Rahul Gandhi made a strong pitch for making the Congress relevant to a broad range of young Indians and become ‘meritocratic’ in which progress was linked to performance along with accountability.

Making his debut at the AICC session after his appointment as party general secretary on a day when speakers starting from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee praised him, Rahul Gandhi made a passionate appeal to the youth to join the Congress to build institutions worthy of their dreams and capabilities.

Referring to his travels across the country, the 37-year-old leader said wherever he went in his recent tours, he was asked two questions by the youth and members of the NSUI and the Youth Congress.

The non-party youth wanted to know how they could join politics and serve the country, while the party youth asked him ‘how do we progress in our organisation’.

Answering the questions himself, Rahul said, “If we are to truly become an organisation that represents the youth of our country, if we are to truly develop leaders of whom this nation can be proud, we need to do two things. The first is to build an organisation that is open and relevant to a broad range of Indians who believe in our values and seek to serve the nation.

“The second is to build a meritocratic organisation. Young people bring tremendous passion and energy into our organisation. We must see to it that they are accountable. It is our duty to ensure that their progress is linked to their performance.”

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Held ultras had Rahul in mind

Lucknow, November 17
Three Jaish-e- Mohammad (JeM) militants arrested in Lucknow have said on camera that they were planning to ‘kidnap’ young Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and claimed they were doing so on the directions of “people in Pakistan” to secure the release of 42 prisoners.

The militants were shown on TV channels in a purported confession claiming they were planning to execute the crime by throwing grenades and spraying bullets.

The startling revelation came even as there was high drama in a sessions court when the three militants, all belonging to Pakistan, were assaulted by a group of lawyers while they were being taken by the police to be produced before the Chief Judicial Magistrate. They were later sent to judicial custody till November 30.

A senior UP STF official told PTI “It has now become clear that the militants, trained specially in kidnapping or taking hostage a VVIP politician, had Rahul Gandhi on their target” as their aim was “very big”. — PTI

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AICC Session
Left, Karunanidhi in the line of fire
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 17
Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh steered clear of taking on the allies in their speeches at the AICC session today but the omnibus resolution adopted at the meeting did not hesitate to criticise the UPA government’s coalition partners.

The Left parties and Tamil Nadu chief minister M. Karunanidhi were in the line of fire with the resolution condemning the violence in Nandigram and recording its objection to the DMK chief’s praise for a LTTE leader.

Although the resolution did not name the Left parties, it contained a strongly-worded paragraph condemning the culture of violence and the cult of armed cadres which led to bloodshed in Nandigram.

The reference to Nandigram, it is learnt, was included at the insistence of parliamentary affairs minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi, who is an MP from West Bengal and Mohsina Kidwai, general-secretary in charge of the state’s affairs, when the resolution was discussed by the extended Congress Working Committee last night. Both Dasmunsi and Kidwai argued that any failure to refer to Nandigram would demoralise their party workers who are battling the Communists in West Bengal.

In a scathing attack against the Buddhadeb Bhattacharya government, the resolution said, “The AICC notes with concern the grave situation in Nandigram where the writ of the state government appears to have ceased to run.” Condemning the violence in Nandigram, it said, all this is the natural outcome of a system where the interests of the party cadres are placed above the interests of the people at large and the law and order machinery is not allowed to function professionally.

The attack on the DMK chief was, in contrast, more muted. Referring to a poem Karunanidhi wrote on the recent death of LTTE leader S.P Thamilichelvan, the resolution passed by the AICC said the “LTTE categorised internationally as a terrorist outfit, deliberately assassinated our beloved leader (former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi) in a brutal manner.”

Karunanidhi’s poem in his praise had angered and embarrassed the Congress which has held the LTTE to be a banned organisation but the party was constrained from articulating its response publicly because of coalition compulsions.

The Congress also used the occasion to kick start its campaign against the Narendra Modi government in Gujarat where polls are scheduled next month. Slamming the BJP for pursuing a communal agenda, the AICC lamented that Gandhi’s legacy was under siege in his home state. It called upon party workers to rescue the Gujarat of Gandhi from the clutches of those who have been brought up in the ideological shadow of Nathuram Godse.

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CBI probe into Nandigram firing
Budha govt to move SC
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

CPM sees Red

Bose and Konar warned the judges and asked them to act rightly or face the consequences. They asked workers and supporters to mobilise themselves against enemies, which included the Governor, High Court, Press, a section of city intellectuals and Mamata

Kolkata, November 17
The state government will go to the Supreme Court against the Calcutta High Court’s ruling ordering a fresh CBI probe into the March 14 Nandigram incident. Chief Justice S.S. Nirjjar’s division Bench, including Justice Pinaki Ranjan Ghose, declared in its judgement yesterday that the police firing in Nandigarm on March 14 killing 14 persons was unjustified and unconstitutional.

Angry at the high court’s judgement, the CPM activists today took to the streets in a large number protesting against the ruling. They held a rally in the Esplanade area in the afternoon where the leaders called upon the party cadres and their supporters to rise to the occasion and fight against their enemies, who were involved in a conspiracy to dislodge the elected government in power since 1977 at a stretch.

Not only the high court but also the Governor, Gopal Krishna Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the front partners the CPI, the RSP and the Forward Bloc were also on the CPM’s target today.

The leaders, which included party secretary Biman Bose, Benoy Konar, Mohammad Selim, Subhas Chakraborty, and others criticised the Calcutta High Court and accused it of acting beyond it’s constitutional jurisdiction. Both Bose and Konar warned the judges and asked them to act rightly or face the consequences.

The leadership asked the workers and supporters to mobilise themselves against their enemies they listed, which included the state Governor, the high court, the Press, a section of the city intellectuals and Mamata Banerjee.

Dissatisfied with the yesterday’s high court’s judgement, the state advocate general, Balai Roy, said he had advised the government to go to the Supreme Court. Biman Bose also said the state government would go to the Supreme Court against the Calcutta High Court’s judgement, which was biased and motivated.

Meanwhile, the BJP and the Trinamool Congress today met the Governor separately at the Raj Bhawan and demanded the application of Article 356 in the wake of the high court’s ruling on the Nandigram issue. Mamata said after the court’s judgement Budhadeb Bhattacharjee had no right to be in the Chief Minister’s chair any more.

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Four women seek protection from HC to convert to Islam
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, November 17
Four young women have sought protection from the Madras High Court from their parents and the Tamil Nadu police who were preventing them to convert to Islam.

Three sisters and one of their friends from Aiyampettai, a Muslim-dominated village in Thanjavur district, in a joint petition to the high court stated that their parents were threatening them and had even sent the local police here to compel them to return home.

Justice K. Kohan Ram admitted the petition and directed the women to appear before the court on November 22 to file individual affidavits narrating the incidents.

The three sisters, 22-year-old Lokeshwari, 20-year-old Ambika, and 19-year-old Sharmila, besides 20-year-old Kalaiselvi, alleged that their lives were at stake as violence erupted in their village after they left for the state capital and a bandh was even called on November 12 to protest against their decision.

Ambika, a second year college student, and the three other women, who have completed higher secondary schooling, submitted before the court that they had consciously taken the decision to embrace Islam after their long interaction with their Muslim neighbours and having understood the religion.

“We have taken the decision voluntarily and have not been induced or coerced by any one,” they stated.

They said they arrived here on November 7 and sought the help of office-bearers of the Tamil Nadu Tawheed Jamat, a socio-religious and political organisation in the state, for help, who agreed to convert them.

They admitted that their parents were opposed to their decision and after having failed to convince them to return home threatened with dire consequences.

They said that in frustration their parents lodged a “false complaint” with the police alleging that they had been duped by a local doctor who forcibly brought them here with an “ulterior motive”.

After they learnt about the bandh at their village on November 12 in protest against their decision to embrace Islam during which violence took place, they were frightened about their safety.

They said that if they returned home they would not be free to exercise their constitutional right to practice any religion of their choice.

As a result, they moved the high court asking for security from the Chennai city police and that the district police as well as their parents should be restrained to forcibly take them back to their hometown.

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3 of family attempt suicide, 2 die

Surat, November 17
A father and a daughter died when a family of three, attempted suicide by consuming poison in Varachcha Road area of the city here last evening, the police said today.

The deceased have been identified as Kailash Lashkari (30) and his daughter Rinkal (3), while his wife Kavita (27) is battling for her life in a civil hospital.

According to the police, Kailash and Rinkal were declared brought dead by the hospital sources while Kavita was admitted in the emergency ward and her condition was stated to be serious.

The family was under severe financial burden, which led them to take such an extreme step, sources said. Kailash and Kavita consumed poison after making their daughter consume poison at their home in Kohinoor society. — UNI

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