SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
image
N A T I O N

EC rap for candidates
New Delhi, April 13
A sharp fall in the level of debate and an increasing tendency of national leaders to make provocative and derogatory statements besides open distribution of money, forced the Election Commission to issue a fresh list of do’s and dont’s late last night.

3 Goa poll observers sacked over freebies
Panjim, April 13
Three observers belonging to the Election Commission were relieved of their duties after they went on a dinner cruise and demanded that the Goa Tourism Development Corporation pick up the tab.

Orissa RSS chief held with 7.4 lakh cash
Two days before the first phase of the elections in the communally-sensitive Kandhamal Lok Sabha segment, the district police on Monday night held the Orissa RSS chief, Jagdish Khadanga, carrying over Rs 7 lakh in a vehicle.


EARLIER STORIES


A man carries cane baskets along a roadside to sell them in a market at Nalchar village, about 76 km south of Agartala, Tripura, on Monday.
A man carries cane baskets along a roadside to sell them in a market at Nalchar village, about 76 km south of Agartala, Tripura, on Monday. — Reuters

SC takes a dig at govt
Questions its sincerity in checking smoking
New Delhi, April 13
The Supreme Court today took a dig at the Centre by asking whether it was diluting the legal provisions relating to pictorial warnings on cigarette packets and other tobacco products as part of its measures to check the burgeoning population.

No bail for Varun as SC adjourns hearing
New Delhi, April 13
The release of Varun Gandhi, held under the National Security Act (NSA), appeared imminent today as the BJP leader and the Uttar Pradesh government accepted a Supreme Court suggestion for letting him out after securing an undertaking that he would not make any provocative speeches again.

Under royal patronage, Bolangir still suffers hunger pangs
Along the KBK stretch in Orissa, April 13
Driving through the 500-km stretch that links Orissa’s infamous KBK (Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput) districts, you see a part of India you wish never existed.

Kirori to contest as Independent from Dausa
Jaipur, April 13
The political drama over firebrand tribal leader Kirori Lal Meena’s tiff with the Congress over the Lok Sabha poll tickets finally came to an end today with the former deciding to contest as an Independent from the Dausa Lok Sabha constituency.

UN should control Lanka war zones: BJP
Chennai, April 13
Tamils in Sri Lankan war zone preferred to stay with the Tigers as they feared danger to their lives as well as their dignity if they entered the military controlled areas, the BJP today said and asked the United Nations to take control over the safety zones.

Sonia’s rally fails to draw crowd
Silchar, April 13
It was a pretty bad day for 21-year-old Kalia Sahu. Even the Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s presence in this south Assam hub failed to bring a smile on his face.





Top








 

EC rap for candidates
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Poll Heat & Hate

“I do not like Sonia Gandhi’s face and voice and her language.”

— Prabhunath Singh, on Sonia’s foreign origin

“We did not know Lalu, who is aspiring to become PM, has joined as a ‘jallad’ (hangman) at Tihar jail.”

— Sushma Swaraj, on Lalu’s roadroller remarks

“I’ve heard that she (Sushma Swaraj) has called me “Tihar ka jallad’. If she has, my word for her will be ‘Putna’.”

— Lalu Prasad Yadav, on Sushma’s comment

“If somebody lifts a hand against Hindus... then I swear on the Gita that I will cut off that hand.”

— Varun Gandhi, at a rally in Pilibhit, UP

New Delhi, April 13
A sharp fall in the level of debate and an increasing tendency of national leaders to make provocative and derogatory statements besides open distribution of money, forced the Election Commission to issue a fresh list of do’s and dont’s late last night.

On violations of the law and model code of conduct the EC warned “…if unchecked, (this) is bound to seriously damage the election process and set a deplorable precedent for future elections”. It sent-off a five-page letter to all parties reminding them of the model code of conduct. EC said it was “pained” to see that speeches were being made to incite communal hatred, disharmony and aggravating the differences between citizens on grounds of religion, caste and community.

In political circles, this letter is seen as a rap on the knuckles for the BJP and the Congress both of which have been locked in series of verbal tit-for-tats for the past two weeks or so. However, hours after having used strong words, the EC itself did not match its words with action. Today it let-off RJD chief Lalu Yadav, his wife Rabri Devi, senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh and Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackery after voicing its “strong displeasure” on various violations. The EC said replies of Lalu Yadav and his wife were “not satisfactory” and expressed its “strong displeasure” to them. Lalu Yadav faced the EC ire for having allegedly indulged in rhetoric saying he would have crushed BJP candidate Varun Gandhi “under a roller without caring for consequences” for his anti-Muslim speeches. EC officials explained that Varun’s words were against an entire community while Yadav had used strong words against an individual.

On last night’s letter to political parties, sources in the EC denied that there was a fresh trigger point to issue it. The general environment during electioneering had been spoiled due to hate speeches, money distribution and promoting division of votes on grounds of religion, said an official. The Congress spokesperson today claimed that the party did not initiate any of the ungainly media-debates, instead it had only replied to the BJP.

Political observers said the notable spats played out in the media were between the Prime Minister and leader of the Opposition LK Advani after the latter made the “weakest PM ever” remark. The angry PM replied in, what some opined, was unusual for his reticent style.

Adding to the heat were a spree of hate speeches. One by Varun Gandhi on how he would “deal” with Muslims and the other by Andhra Pradesh Congress Chief P Sriniwas who explained how he would deal with anyone who dares to cast an eye on Muslims. These were just a bit too much, said another source, while adding that leaders were now threatening to kill people of one community or another just for votes.

Leaders distributing cash and then justifying the same as “local customs” was not only a violation of the model code it also amounts to “bribery” under Section 171 B of the IPC, the EC said using strong words in its letter. However, today it let-off BJP leader Jaswant Singh, who did the same.

Top

 

3 Goa poll observers sacked over freebies
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Panjim, April 13
Three observers belonging to the Election Commission were relieved of their duties after they went on a dinner cruise and demanded that the Goa Tourism Development Corporation pick up the tab.

The names of the three observers have been given as Chanchal Tewari (IAS), Masood Hassan (IAS) and TC Jose (Indian Revenue Service). They were accompanied by a liaison officer, M Olwatt, on the Santa Monica dinner cruise on Mandovi river on Saturday evening.

Shortly before the four embarked on the cruise, someone claiming to be a senior official from the Goa Tourism department called the man managing the cruise and asked him to arrange for a complimentary dinner-cum-cruise for them. However on Monday, officials of the Goa Tourism Development Corporation refused to pay the bill on behalf of the EC officials.

Things got worse when the Deputy District Election Officer in charge of North Goa, PS Meena, wrote to the GTDC seeking to treat the bill as complimentary. A copy of the note was also sent to the State Election Commission. The bill was then cleared by the EC after the GTDC insisted on it paying up.

However later today, the EC announced that the three observers along with Meena had been relieved of election duties. In place of the three officers, the EC brought in KV Satyanarayan (IAS), Suresh Chand (IAS) and DP Singh (Indian Engineering Service).

A cruise and dinner on the Santa Monica cruises cost between Rs 300 and Rs 500.

Top

 

Orissa RSS chief held with 7.4 lakh cash
Aditi Tandon writes from Kandhamal

Two days before the first phase of the elections in the communally-sensitive Kandhamal Lok Sabha segment, the district police on Monday night held the Orissa RSS chief, Jagdish Khadanga, carrying over Rs 7 lakh in a vehicle.

Kandhamal Deputy Commissioner Krishan Kumar confirmed to The Tribune tonight that the Orissa RSS chief, along with two other persons, were detained for investigations at the Saranggad police station in the district after they were found carrying Rs 7.4 lakh in a bag, lying in their vehicle.

“We detained three persons in connections with a huge cash recovery, that needs to be investigated in the wake of April 16 polling in the district. One of the persons detained has identified himself as the Orissa RSS chief. The other person accompanying him is BB Patnaik. We have taken the cash in our custody and will produce the same along with the detainees before a Magistrate in the district court tomorrow,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Kandhamal district administration has initiated the proceedings to check the veracity of the cash found in the custody of the above three persons.

“Since the first phase of the elections are slated in just another two days, we have decided to alert the Income Tax Commissioner, Orissa, to determine the source of this money and why/where was it being taken. In such cases, when elections are due, we have to act immediately on the slightest of suspicion", the DC told The Tribune.

SP Kandhamal Parveen Kumar, for his part said “statements of the detainees have been recorded. One of the detainees claims he is the RSS chief of Orissa and the process for determination of the source of cash and its purpose of entry into Kandhamal has begun.”

Top

 

SC takes a dig at govt
Questions its sincerity in checking smoking
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, April 13
The Supreme Court today took a dig at the Centre by asking whether it was diluting the legal provisions relating to pictorial warnings on cigarette packets and other tobacco products as part of its measures to check the burgeoning population.

Justice GS Singhvi, who was part of a Bench headed by Justice BN Agarwal, put this question to Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium while hearing a PIL which has sought a direction to the Centre to implement the relevant laws without any delay and dilution.

Unperturbed, the ASG indirectly admitted that the government had changed the pictorial warning from that of a “skull and crossed bones” to a “lung x-ray,” but maintained that the new image “is sufficiently strong” to deter tobacco users.

The ASG also made it clear that the government was determined to implement the provisions from May 31 this year despite postponing the step several times in the past. Senior counsel Indira Jaisingh, appearing for the NGO petitioner, Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI), said the government was dithering on the issue and had kept diluting the pictorial warning under pressure from the manufacturers of tobacco products, putting at peril the health of the public at large.

While the picture of skull and crossed bones was internationally recognised as a warning signal, x-rays, lungs or scorpions would not have the same deterrent effect on those hooked to the cancerous habit that led to slow and painful death.

Guidelines for prevention of fire in schools

The Supreme Court today issued stringent guidelines for all government and private schools across the country to prevent accidents, similar to the July 2004 fire in a Tamil Nadu school in which 93 children were killed.

“It is the fundamental right of each and every child to receive education free from fear of security and safety. The children cannot be compelled to receive education from an unsound and unsafe building,” a Bench headed by Justice Dalveer Bhandari said.

Observing that since the fire at the Lord Krishna Middle School in Kumbakonam some states had “moved slowly” and that safety standards varied in quality in different states, the Bench, which included Justice Lokeshwar Singh Panta, said it had become imperative to direct authorities to ensure safety measures. The measures were based on the National Building Code of India, 2005.

“These delays and variations have subjected millions (of) more schoolchildren to danger from fire, earthquakes and other causes, when simple enhancements could offer much greater protection. Articles 21 and 21-A of the Constitution require that India’s school children receive education in safe schools,” the Bench said.

Under the five-point directives, aimed at giving “effect to the provisions of the Constitution,” the state and UT governments could grant recognition or affiliation to schools only after ensuring that the buildings were safe and secure from “every angle” and were constructed as per the code.

SC wants Gujarat riot cases fast-tracked

The Supreme Court today expressed itself in favour of setting up special fast-track courts for the cases relating to the 2002 Gujarat riots that had followed the Godhra train tragedy.

“We are thinking of asking the (Gujarat) High Court to set up designated courts for the riots cases,” said a Bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat that also included Justices P Sathasivam and Aftab Alam.

“In riots cases, feelings run so high that it has a cascading effect. The trial in such cases should be taken up on a priority basis as it is good for the whole country,” Justice Pasayat remarked. Agreeing with the sentiments, Justice Alam said the trial should be conducted on a daily basis.

Reserving its verdict, the Bench asked Amicus Curiae Harish Salve and senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi, who appeared for Gujarat, and the NHRC to give their suggestions in writing by April 20.

Rohtagi said the proposal on special courts would be acceptable to the state government, which was also in agreement with the findings of the apex court -appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) that had gone into the incidents involved in the cases.

The report, which had not been made public or given to the parties before the apex court, had vindicated the state government's contention that it had no role in the riots. The SIT had contradicted the "horrendous allegations" made by NGOs in their affidavits to the court, Rohtagi said.

Top

 

No bail for Varun as SC adjourns hearing
Our Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, April 13
The release of Varun Gandhi, held under the National Security Act (NSA), appeared imminent today as the BJP leader and the Uttar Pradesh government accepted a Supreme Court suggestion for letting him out after securing an undertaking that he would not make any provocative speeches again.

Observing that such a drastic step of arresting him under the NSA was not needed, Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan mooted the proposal on behalf of the Bench, which also included Justice P Sathasivam.

Senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for Uttar Pradesh, said the state government had no problem with the suggestion. However, Varun, BJP's candidate for the Pilibhit Lok Sabha seat from UP, should also give an assurance to the court that he would not create any "volatile" situation leading to a law and order problem. Varun's counsel, Mukul Rohtagi, said his client would have no problem in giving any such undertaking as he had to file his nomination by the end of this week and resume his campaigning.

During the arguments, the Bench and the arguing counsel agreed with a view that both the Centre and the state government were competent to revoke the NSA provision against Varun, upon the recommendation of a Board in place for reviewing NSA cases. The Bench posted the next hearing for April 16.

Top

 

Under royal patronage, Bolangir still
suffers hunger pangs

Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Along the KBK stretch in Orissa, April 13
Driving through the 500-km stretch that links Orissa’s infamous KBK (Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput) districts, you see a part of India you wish never existed.

It’s a godforsaken and impoverished place, with barely any traces of development. Roads, for most part, are rutted; power and potable water virtually absent; rice, onion and salt is what villagers call food, and houses are all thatched.

With no regular irrigation facility for KBK’s agrarian economy, the sole source of livelihood, villagers subsist at less than Re 12 a day, sometimes selling off children for money, sometimes starving to death.

A living example of lack of change in KBK areas is Premsila Bhui, the resident of Kundaputla village (along the Bolangir-Kalahandi border), who shot to infamy in the 1990s when she traded her child for money. She lives in the same old hutment, frozen in time.

Four persons per village in KBK areas are said to be still living in hunger, though the situation has improved considerably since August last when the state government started giving rice at Rs 2 a kg to BPL families.

So much poverty all around and yet this place is called royal. At the heart of KBK route stands the Bolangir Lok Sabha segment, which has carried a “royal” baggage for decades without returns. This time, too, it’s the royal pride at stake in this former princely estate, whose erstwhile rulers, the Singh Deos, are fighting the political battle here.

The story goes back to family patriarch and two-time Orissa Chief Mnister RN Singh Deo, whose death caused acute divisions in the family that inherited big fortunes, but could not agree on who would get what.

Disputes continue, and are now fought politically, with four members of the royal Bolangir family pitted against each other in the seven assembly and one LS segment of Bolangir. After the split with the BJP, the BJD has got Kalikesh Singh Deo, son of sitting Bolangir MLA AU Singh Deo, to fight BJP’s sitting MP Sangeeta Singh Deo here.

Sangeeta is the sister-in-law of her BJD challenger, a sitting Saintala MLA in this LS constituency. She is also the wife of Kanak Vardhan Singh Deo (the elder grandson of Bolangir royal RN Deo), seeking reelection from Patnagarh assembly segment here.

On the other hand, in Patnagarh assembly area, another major dynastic conflict has emerged following the BJP-BJD split, with the latter fielding Kanak Vardhan Singh’s sister-in-law Prakruti on its ticket.

Confusing as it may sound; royalty, for the locals, is a tradition that needs to be respected, returns notwithstanding. So they feel overwhelmed when Kalikesh Deo’s voice greets them on the BSNL phone, beseeching them for votes.

The crown prince’s growing popularity among young women (BJP’s committed vote base until now) may be a cause of concern for “queen” Sangeeta, who is countering her rival’s video-audio campaigns with a personalised strategy. She has called her daughter Nibriti (studying in Switzerland ) to Orissa and they are both visiting households, seeking “blessings of people.”

The Congress, for its part, is banking on Narsingh Misra, son of Constituent Assembly member Yudhistir Misra, to deliver the Bolangir LS seat. Orissa Law Minister in 1990, Misra is doing well with his campaign. He has got seven trucks (one for each assembly segment) converted into tableaux. They run a 10-minute film on UPA’s performances. Misra’s rice idea has also made it to the Congress manifesto.

Top

 

Kirori to contest as Independent from Dausa
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, April 13
The political drama over firebrand tribal leader Kirori Lal Meena’s tiff with the Congress over the Lok Sabha poll tickets finally came to an end today with the former deciding to contest as an Independent from the Dausa Lok Sabha constituency.

Apart from it, Kirori has also not ruled out the possibility of fielding his own candidates from some other Lok Sabha seats as well. Political observers say Kirori Lal’s move may spell trouble for the Congress and to some extent the BJP as well, as he holds considerable clout in at least four to five Lok Sabha seats in east Rajasthan.

He had given ample proof of his influence in the Assembly polls last year when he upset the BJP applecart by putting up about a dozen candidates on his own. His five candidates won the elections and he played a vital role in lending stability to the Congress government.

Top

 

UN should control Lanka war zones: BJP
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, April 13
Tamils in Sri Lankan war zone preferred to stay with the Tigers as they feared danger to their lives as well as their dignity if they entered the military controlled areas, the BJP today said and asked the United Nations to take control over the safety zones.

"As long as the people were asked to come to the safety zones controlled by the Sri Lankan army, Tamils will stay in the war zone with the LTTE cadres. Tamils fear that women would be sexually assaulted and youths be tortured and killed if they entered the army controlled areas", State BJP president L Ganesan said.

Alleging that Home Minister P Chidambaram was trying to take undue credit for the 48-hour ceasefire in Sri Lanka, the BJP leader said it was possible only due to the efforts of the US and United Nations.

Reacting to Chidambaram's statements yesterday at Sivaganga, from where he was contesting elections, that the Centre had insisted the island nation to announce a ceasefire, Ganesan said the Home Minister was making such statements as he feared a defeat for his party in the elections.

People of TN knew that who provided support to the Lankan army for its military offensive, he said and charged that Chidambaram was trying to deceive the people.

Top

 

Sonia’s rally fails to draw crowd
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Silchar, April 13
It was a pretty bad day for 21-year-old Kalia Sahu. Even the Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s presence in this south Assam hub failed to bring a smile on his face.

“My whole day has been wasted. I couldn’t even earn Rs 100 after standing for so many hours on the road,” said Kalia, who was selling roasted peanuts near India Club Ground where Congress president Sonia Gandhi addressed the party’s election rally this afternoon.

The rally, apparently, failed to enthuse Congress workers because of poor attendance. About 3,000 persons gathered at the ground to hear the Congress president.

A local Congress leader Dipan Dewanjee, however, said the bandh called by a local students’ association of Barak Valley prevented people from neighbouring areas to come to the rally. However, the bandh had no impact on the populous Silchar city where locals did not troop out of their houses in large numbers to attend the Congress rally held in a constituency.

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 |