SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
image
N A T I O N

Reward Cong for its work: Sonia
UPA chairperson sounds poll bugle in Andhra Pradesh
Hyderabad, February 27
The UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi today kicked off Congress’ election campaign from tribal-dominated Khammam district in Andhra Pradesh with a call to the people to reject the ‘empty sloganeering’ of the opposition parties and reward the party for its good work.
POLL DANCE: UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi learns the steps of a traditional dance from tribal women during a public meeting in Kothagudem, some 270 km from Hyderabad POLL DANCE: UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi learns the steps of a traditional dance from tribal women during a public meeting in Kothagudem, some 270 km from Hyderabad, on Friday. — AFP

‘Communism no one’s monopoly’
Outgoing Speaker Somnath Chatterjee takes a dig at CPM
New Delhi, February 27
Outgoing Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee today left a caustic last message for his former party, the CPM. “I am still a Communist. Communism is not the monopoly of any party,” the veteran signalled, when asked if he was still a comrade.



EARLIER STORIES



Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s wife Gursharan Kaur holds the Oscar award while Pinki Sonkar and her father Rajendra Sonkar look on in New Delhi
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s wife Gursharan Kaur holds the Oscar award while Pinki Sonkar and her father Rajendra Sonkar look on in New Delhi on Friday. ‘Smile Pinki’, which won the award in the best short documentary film category, is the story of Pinki. Tribune photo: Mukesh Aggarwal

Poll Code Violations
EC for citizens as observers
Hyderabad, February 27
In a novel initiative to check poll code violations, the Election Commission (EC) has decided to involve citizens to act as poll observers and help in ensuring free and fair poll.

Poll Waves
Interlinking of 5 rivers in 3 yrs: Soz
New Delhi, February 27
The UPA government has had a poll time recall regarding the country’s ambitious interlinking of rivers (ILR) programme. Minister of Water Resources Saifuddin Soz today said the programme was very much on the “front burner and priority list” of his ministry and all the five ILR projects would be completed by the next two to three years.

POTA Panel Findings
Modi govt moves apex court against HC verdict
New Delhi, February 27
The Gujarat government today challenged the High Court’s refusal to quash the findings of the Justice SC Jain Central POTA Review Committee in the 2002 Godhra fire tragedy cases, in the Supreme Court.

New arms policy in 3 weeks: Centre to SC
New Delhi, February 27
The Centre today assured the Supreme Court that it would come out with a new arms policy covering sale and issue of licences within three weeks. Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam made the commitment to a Bench comprising Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan and Justice P Sathasivam during the hearing of a PIL.

SC stays HC order against Punjab
New Delhi, February 27
The Supreme Court today stayed a Punjab and Haryana High Court order that had made disparaging remarks against the state machinery of Punjab and the law officers and sought classified information about equipment and their use which was "unrelated" to the relevant case.

Kosi Floods
Rs 40 cr more for rehab of victims
Patna, February 27
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had a surprise visitor at his office today. Railway Minister and RJD Chief Lalu Prasad came to meet his ‘arch rival’ in state politics. The purpose was to contribute Rs 40 crore to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund for carrying out the rehabilitation work for the victims of worst ever Kosi floods witnessed in Bihar.

Bihar police names infant in chargesheet
Patna, February 27
A court in Bihar’s Muzzaffarpur district has served a showcause notice to a police official who filed a chargesheet against an 18-month-old boy for allegedly insulting someone with the intention of breaching peace.

Anti-Corruption Bureau asked to book Andhra CM
Hyderabad, February 27
A special court of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) here today directed the bureau to register a case against Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy, Irrigation Minister Ponnala Lakshmaiah and nine others in an alleged corruption case relating to a controversial irrigation project.

TN lawyers unrelenting
Chennai, February 27
A day after the Supreme Court directed the striking lawyers to resume work, lawyers of the Madras High Court continued their fast for the fifth day today, gagging their mouth with black cloth and wearing black flags.

Tandon is BJP candidate from Lucknow
Lucknow, February 27
Ending months of suspense, the BJP has finally declared former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s close aide and Chief Minister Mayawati’s once ‘rakhi brother’ Lalji Tandon as the Lok Sabha candidate from the prestigious Lucknow parliamentary constituency.

Centre conspiring against me: Mulayam
Etawah, February 27
Coming down heavily on the UPA government, Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav has charged it of using the CBI to put him behind bars.

Thackeray’s condition stable
Mumbai, February 27
The condition of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, who was admitted to a hospital here following complaints of fever is stable, doctors attending on him said today. The fever has come down but he is very weak and feeling exhausted, they said, adding he needs complete rest.

Gandhi’s belongings will not go under hammer: Govt
New Delhi, February 27
The government of India on Friday decided to ensure Mahatma Gandhi's personal belongings do not go under hammer in New York next month and bring them back to the country.





Top








 

Reward Cong for its work: Sonia
UPA chairperson sounds poll bugle in Andhra Pradesh

Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, February 27
The UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi today kicked off Congress’ election campaign from tribal-dominated Khammam district in Andhra Pradesh with a call to the people to reject the ‘empty sloganeering’ of the opposition parties and reward the party for its good work.

Addressing a large gathering of tribals at the coal town of Kothagudem in the backward Telangana region, about 350 Kms from here, Sonia sounded the poll bugle and sought a fresh mandate for Congress as it alone would ensure all-round development of the country.

Focusing on a plethora of welfare measures by Congress-led governments at the Centre and in AP, she took a dig at the opposition parties saying they were only indulging in mudslinging to defame the ruling party.

“For opposition parties, secularism and social justice are just empty slogans. But, for us, they form the core ideology and instruments of faith. I feel proud that we have been able to fulfill our promises to help the poor,” Sonia said, evoking cheers from the gathering.

During the 20 minute address, the Congress president sought to highlight the pro-poor measures initiated by the UPA government and contrasted them with the “negative politics” of the opposition parties who attack the ruling party only through the media instead of going to the people. “Now that the elections are approaching, these opposition leaders will come to you seeking votes. They never bothered to stand by you and were never interested in your welfare. The Congress has always been committed to the welfare of common man and we have proved it time and again,” Sonia said.

She concluded her speech with an appeal for votes in Telugu, evoking applause from the crowd.

Earlier in the day, Sonia launched a contributory pension scheme for members of women self-help groups (SHGs) at Hyderabad. Under the scheme, christened as “Abhaya Hastham” (Helping Hand), the SHG members, on attaining 60 years of age, will be provided a monthly pension ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 2,000.

The scheme will benefit 1.50 lakh SHG members from March 1 and the state government has earmarked Rs 365 crore for the scheme in the 2009-10 budget.

“The women of AP have set an example for empowerment of women. This is a matter of great pride for us,” Sonia said after handing over the insurance policy bond papers to the beneficiaries at a special function held at Begumpet airport.

On a two-day visit to the state, the UPA chairperson also laid the foundation for a new Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) campus at Kandi in neighbouring Medak district, about 60 Kms from here. Sonia is scheduled to address another public meeting at Parade Grounds here tomorrow where she is expected to elaborate on her party’s position on the raging issue of Telangana statehood.

Top

 

Top

 

‘Communism no one’s monopoly’
Outgoing Speaker Somnath Chatterjee takes a dig at CPM
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 27
Outgoing Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee today left a caustic last message for his former party, the CPM. “I am still a Communist. Communism is not the monopoly of any party,” the veteran signalled, when asked if he was still a comrade. He made it clear that his decision not to contest elections had nothing to do with his expulsion from the CPM.

“I had voiced my intention of retiring from politics a year ago. I want to show the world that politicians, too, can retire,” Chatterjee said, voicing his deep disapproval of MPs fixing their own salaries and judges appointing other judges in India. “These two things…make India unique,” he said, further asserting that the reservation of his LS constituency had no bearing on his decision to quit politics. “I had to quit any way,” he said.

The observations came along with memory of the day when the CPM had expelled Chatterjee for not stepping down ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s trust vote in Parliament, after the Left withdrew support to the UPA.

“I was hurt by the party’s behaviour,” the Speaker said, adding, “That day was one of the two saddest days of my life - the first was when Atal Behari Vajpayeeji handed me a letter, wherein the Opposition had expressed apprehensions about my conduct as the Speaker,” Chatterjee said, daring his critics (read the NDA) to base their charges of partiality on objective reasons.

Defending himself on this rather-sticky wicket, Chatterjee said he never disallowed a single major issue. “Right in the beginning of the session, I allowed an adjournment motion against the government, which was annoyed. I also revived calling attention motions.” The Speaker added that his resignation letter was ready (post Opposition’s accusations), but other political parties dissuaded him from resigning.

As regards his stormy last days with the Left, the outgoing Speaker hinted at having discussed the episode in great detail in his forthcoming book. He again asserted the need to maintain the neutrality of Speaker’s office and said he had dissociated from all CPM affairs post election as the Speaker. “I went to the party office in Kolkata only twice - to lay wreaths in the memory of leaders,” Chatterjee said, describing the last four and a half years of his life as “very unhappy”.

Top

 

Poll Code Violations
EC for citizens as observers
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, February 27
In a novel initiative to check poll code violations, the Election Commission (EC) has decided to involve citizens to act as poll observers and help in ensuring free and fair poll.

The EC has set up a call centre to enable people anywhere in Andhra Pradesh to file complaints regarding election code violations by political parties and any other poll-related matters, including voter ID cards and errors in voters’ list.

Any citizen can now dial 1100, a toll-free number, and pass on the information regarding code violations, I V Subba Rao, state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), said.

“Our intention is to make the eight crore citizens of the state effective poll observers,” he said.

Soon after registering the call, the officials of the Election Commission will alert the district Collector and the superintendent of police concerned to check on it and take necessary follow-up action.

The calls made by the citizens will activate a tracking number and help the complainant in checking the status of the action taken by the officials.

The complaints can also be lodged on the special website being launched by the EC for the purpose. In another unique initiative, the poll panel has allowed filing of electoral forms through drop boxes.

Over 2,000 drop boxes have been installed across the city to enable people to drop the forms for enrolment or for rectification of the mistakes/ discrepancies found in the existing rolls or for voter’s photo identity card.

The drop boxes have been placed at all nationalised banks, e-Seva Centres (computerised citizen services centres), fair price shops, post offices, railway and bus stations, shopping malls and petrol pumps.

Top

 

Poll Waves
Interlinking of 5 rivers in 3 yrs: Soz
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 27
The UPA government has had a poll time recall regarding the country’s ambitious interlinking of rivers (ILR) programme. Minister of Water Resources Saifuddin Soz today said the programme was very much on the “front burner and priority list” of his ministry and all the five ILR projects would be completed by the next two to three years.

At present, there are five river links on board the country’s ambitious ILR programme. These are Ken - Betwa link (Madhya Pradesh), Parbati - Kalisindh -Chambal link (Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh), Godavari (Polavaram) - Krishna (Vijayawada) link (Andhra Pradesh), Par - Tapi - Narmada link (Gujarat and Maharashtra) and Damanganga - Pinjal link (Gujarat and Maharashtra). However, till date the DPR of only the Ken-Betwa link is ready.

Explaining reasons behind the inordinate delay in the projects, Soz said his ministry was extremely serious about the ILR programme and it was one of their priority areas.

“The DPR of the Ken-Betwa was completed on December 31, 2008. Work on preparing DPRs for the other projects is on. Preparing a DPR for a river project is a tedious and a gigantic effort. It involves various issues, including environmental concerns. Moreover, water is a state subject and in four projects, two state governments are involved. But we are confident that all the five links will be ready in the next two to three years.

Top

 

POTA Panel Findings
Modi govt moves apex court against HC verdict
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 27
The Gujarat government today challenged the High Court’s refusal to quash the findings of the Justice SC Jain Central POTA Review Committee in the 2002 Godhra fire tragedy cases, in the Supreme Court.

The committee had ruled that the accused in the cases could not be tried under the anti-terror law and that the trial would stand transferred from POTA courts to regular courts which proceed against them under the IPC.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan said the Gujarat petition would tagged with a case filed by one Sardarji Maganji Vaghela, a passenger who was travelling in the ill-fated S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express that had caught fire, killing 59 people. The petition is listed for hearing on March 6.

Vaghela had sought the quashing of Para 40 and 41 of the POTA committee report, according to which the February 27, 2002, incident was not the result of any conspiracy.

Earlier, the apex court had, in a POTA case, ruled that the findings of the Central POTA Review Committee were binding on the Centre and the states.

Top

 

New arms policy in 3 weeks: Centre to SC
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 27
The Centre today assured the Supreme Court that it would come out with a new arms policy covering sale and issue of licences within three weeks.

Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam made the commitment to a Bench comprising Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan and Justice P Sathasivam during the hearing of a PIL.

Advocate Arvind Kumar Sharma had filed the PIL seeking a CBI inquiry into the illegal arms trade involving Army personnel and state government officials following media reports about such activities which threatened national security.

Sharma said official inquiries in Rajasthan, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir had confirmed such activities, but the state governments, particularly Rajasthan, had failed to take any firm action either to punish the culprits or check illegal trade in arms.

The petitioner insisted on a CBI probe and a direction to the states concerned to take necessary steps, but the Bench said it would await the Centre’s new arms policy which would be submitted to the court before the next hearing, scheduled after three weeks.

Immediately after the PIL was filed in 2007 following a report from Sri Ganganagar district of Rajasthan, the apex court had sought replies from the Centre and the state government and issued notices to both Home and Defence Ministries.

According to the petitioner, an inquiry for the period 2002-06 by the Sri Ganganagar Collector had confirmed sale of prohibited weapons obtained by Army personnel through the Central Ordnance Depot, Jabalpur. Weapons prescribed for Army personnel were sold to general public with criminal records.

Top

 

SC stays HC order against Punjab
R. Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 27
The Supreme Court today stayed a Punjab and Haryana High Court order that had made disparaging remarks against the state machinery of Punjab and the law officers and sought classified information about equipment and their use which was "unrelated" to the relevant case.

A Bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat and AK Ganguly issued the order after senior counsel Harish Salve and Arun Jaitley, assisted by Ajay Pal, said though the information sought by the HC had no relevance to the case, the state provided this in a sealed cover on December 19 last.

However, the HC directed the state government to provide the information in the form of an affidavit. Such public disclosure of classified documents was totally unnecessary and would severely compromise the efficiency of the state intelligence, the counsel contended.

The state has come to the apex court, challenging the HC order in a case against one Anurag Saxena, a retired CRPF officer who is an old associate of SS Virk, former DGP of Punjab, and one Sukhwinder Singh, alias Sukhi, who is allegedly involved in terrorist crime cases.

Saxena had sought the quashing of an FIR, lodged against him and his two associates on September 8, 2007, under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

Top

 

Kosi Floods
Rs 40 cr more for rehab of victims
Sanjay Singh
Tribune News Service

Patna, February 27
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had a surprise visitor at his office today. Railway Minister and RJD Chief Lalu Prasad came to meet his ‘arch rival’ in state politics. The purpose was to contribute Rs 40 crore to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund for carrying out the rehabilitation work for the victims of worst ever Kosi floods witnessed in Bihar.

While handing over the cheques to Nitish Kumar, Lalu informed the media persons that Rs 38.60 crore have been contributed by all the Railway employees by donating a day’s salary and the RJD has given Rs 2 crore from the party fund for the noble cause.

The RJD chief also declared “we are united for the cause of flood victims and development of Bihar”. On his part, Nitish also expressed gratitude to the Railway Minister and all the railway personnel for extending a helping hand to rehabilitate the flood-ravaged people. ‘It is the single largest contribution from any organisation so far’, Nitish said. He also announced to use the money for constructing an eight feet high raised platforms and community halls in the villages located within the Kosi embankment so that people along with their cattle could take shelter at the time of floods.

Top

 

Bihar police names infant in chargesheet

Patna, February 27
A court in Bihar’s Muzzaffarpur district has served a showcause notice to a police official who filed a chargesheet against an 18-month-old boy for allegedly insulting someone with the intention of breaching peace. Muzaffarpur judicial magistrate TK Sinha on Wednesday refused to hear the chargesheet filed against the infant, called Jawed, and directed the Superintendent of Police to take action against the policeman concerned.

Police officials said Jawed, who belongs to Babhangama village in Muzaffarpur district, about 70 km from here, was named along with four others in a complaint filed by Juhi Begum of the same village.

On the basis of the complaint, a police official of Aurai police station carried out an investigation and last week filed a chargesheet against all the five accused under section 504 of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with causing intentional insult with the intent to provoke breach of peace.

Superintendent of Police Sudhansu Kumar said departmental proceedings will soon start against the police official who filed the chargesheet.

Nearly two years ago, a Patna court was shocked to hear the case of five-year-old Raj Kumar, who was charged with not only assaulting a woman but also attempting to molest her. — IANS

Top

 

Anti-Corruption Bureau asked to book Andhra CM

Hyderabad, February 27
A special court of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) here today directed the bureau to register a case against Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy, Irrigation Minister Ponnala Lakshmaiah and nine others in an alleged corruption case relating to a controversial irrigation project.

The ACB Director General has been directed to conduct a detailed investigation into the case and submit the report to the court by March 26.

A city-based lawyer V Srinivasa Rao filed a complaint with the ACB special court alleging the ACB DG failed to act on his complaint, filed on January 24, on Yellampalli project and requested that necessary directions be issued for registration of a case against the Chief Minister and others.

On hearing the arguments, ACB special court judge N Sanyasi Rao today issued a directive to the ACB DG that a case be registered under Section 13 (1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Sections 120 (B) (conspiracy), 167 (misuse of official position by public servants), 201 (screening of evidence) and 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servants) and a detailed investigation conducted against the Chief Minister and others. — PTI

Top

 

TN lawyers unrelenting

Chennai, February 27
A day after the Supreme Court directed the striking lawyers to resume work, lawyers of the Madras High Court continued their fast for the fifth day today, gagging their mouth with black cloth and wearing black flags.

The agitating lawyers said they would continue their stir and boycott the courts till the Tamil Nadu government placed under suspension the Director -General of Police and the City Police Commissioner for the attack on them inside the court complex on February 19.

The fasting lawyers, who gagged their mouths, included Bar Association President R Krishnamurthy, Senior Counsel Sriram Panchu, R Gandhi, K Subramaniam and Madras High Court Advocate Association President R C Paul Kanagaraj and Tamil Nadu Advocate Association President R Prabakaran.

The lawyers observing today as the Black Day following a call given by the All India Bar Council. A large number of women lawyers also participated in the agitation.

Though a full court had ordered reopening of the Madras High Court and the Madurai Bench of High court and other courts in the districts, the lawyers abstained from attending courts and staged hunger strike, demanding action against the police. — UNI

Top

 

Tandon is BJP candidate from Lucknow
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, February 27
Ending months of suspense, the BJP has finally declared former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s close aide and Chief Minister Mayawati’s once ‘rakhi brother’ Lalji Tandon as the Lok Sabha candidate from the prestigious Lucknow parliamentary constituency.

The 74-year-old sitting MLA from Lucknow West has a formidable fight ahead as he faces film star Sanjay Dutt, who is the SP candidate, and former Mayor and Central Minister Akhilesh Das, who would represent BSP. The Congress is yet to announce a candidate.

Top

 

Centre conspiring against me: Mulayam

Etawah, February 27
Coming down heavily on the UPA government, Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav has charged it of using the CBI to put him behind bars.

“The CBI is preparing fake documents to frame me (in the disproportionate assets case),” he said. He said party general secretary Amar Singh, however, came to know about this and found out how “others’ property was mentioned against my name”.

Yadav also flayed the Centre’s faulty foreign policy, saying the country stood isolated at the global level because of it. — PTI

Top

 

Thackeray’s condition stable

Mumbai, February 27
The condition of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, who was admitted to a hospital here following complaints of fever is stable, doctors attending on him said today. The fever has come down but he is very weak and feeling exhausted, they said, adding he needs complete rest.

The doctors said results of all medical tests carried on the Sena patriarch are normal.

Thackeray has been kept in the ICU and visitors are not allowed to see him, they said. — PTI

Top

 

Gandhi’s belongings will not go under hammer: Govt

New Delhi, February 27
The government of India on Friday decided to ensure Mahatma Gandhi's personal belongings do not go under hammer in New York next month and bring them back to the country.

“Whatever can be done is being done to ensure that articles are not auctioned by involving all concerned stakeholders. Our embassy in Washington and Consulate in New York have been told to actively pursue the matter,” Union Tourism and Cultural Affairs Minister Ambika Soni said. The pair of the famed metal-rimmed spectacles, a pocket watch and sandals of Gandhi are scheduled to be auctioned on March 4-5 in New York.

The Minister came to a decision after extensive consultations with the Ministries of External Affairs, Home, Law and Finance. Soni also stated that the Indian government has been approaching the owners not to auction the Gandhi's belongings. In case owners of the articles do not agree, the Indian government will purchase the items at the reserved price on a reasonable negotiated price, she said.

“We are also requesting an NRI or the local India-American Association to participate in the auction and purchase the items and then donate them to the Indian government at a ceremony where their gesture would be given due recognition” she said. — ANI

Top

 





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |