SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

BJP, BJD import veterans to clinch Puri segment
Puri, the famous abode of Lord Jagannath in Orissa, is all but peaceful these days. Strained ahead of phase-II polls on April 23, it is preparing to test the political strength of two titans - both deserters of their respective ranks, both powerful in their own right.

Vote for ‘experienced’ Cong: Manmohan
Guwahati, April 19
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today called upon the people to vote for the “experienced” Congress to lead the country through the present troubled times and hit out at the BJP for failing to tackle terror during their rule.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is felicitated with a traditional ‘japi’ by Assam’s Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma during an election rally in Guwahati Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is felicitated with a traditional ‘japi’ by Assam’s Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma during an election rally in Guwahati on Sunday. — PTI



EARLIER STORIES



On Shoe Alert: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi addresses an election rally from behind a volleyball net in Ahmedabad
On Shoe Alert:
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi addresses an election rally from behind a volleyball net in Ahmedabad on Sunday. — Reuters


A Congress supporter painted in the party’s colours during an election campaign in Faizabad
A Congress supporter painted in the party’s colours during an election campaign in Faizabad on Sunday. — PTI

‘Recession will ease by Sept’
Guwahati, April 19
The country expects to recover from the affects of global economic crisis to some extent by September this year and hopes to improve the economic growth rate by over two per cent.

PM, wife to cast vote in Guwahati on April 23
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and his wife Gurcharan Kaur would come to the city on April 23 to cast their votes in Guwahati parliamentary constituency.

Congress evades queries on post-poll alliance
New Delhi, April 19
Parrying questions on a possible tie-up with the Left after the Lok Sabha polls, Congress today said the party hoped not to take support of elements, which will be an “impediment” in its march towards progress.

Sonia flays Advani, seeks to debunk his ‘strong leader’ claim
Lucknow, April 19
Blaming the BSP for collapse of law and order in Uttar Pradesh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said criminals who should be behind bars were its candidates and threatening political rivals.

Karat, Buddha differ on support to Congress
Kolkata, April 19
The CPM general secretary Prakash Karat and the West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee came out in public, contradicting themselves over CPM’s support to the Congress after the Lok Sabha polls.

Unearthing Black Money
Time ripe to join global efforts, says Shourie
New Delhi, April 19
The BJP today took the Congress to task on the issue of bringing back all the black money stashed away in tax havens abroad, with party leader Arun Shourie asserting that this was the right time for India to join the global efforts for effectively countering the parallel economy.

Jaya would be good PM: Vaiko
Chennai, April 19
Despite AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa's assertion that she did not have Prime Ministerial ambitions, her ally and MDMK leader Vaiko today said such a scenario could not be ruled out and his party would extend its support for Jayalalithaa's candidature, as she was ‘able, strong and capable for the post.’

Mamata, Pranab stranded as chopper runs out of fuel
Kolkata, April 19
Congress heavyweight Pranab Mukherjee and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, who kickstarted their joint Lok Sabha poll campaign Sunday, were stranded at the northern West Bengal town of Balurghat after their helicopter ran out of fuel.
Union External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee during their first joint election rally in Balurghat on Sunday. — PTI
Union External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee during their first joint election rally in Balurghat

Karuna tries to shift focus to Sethu project
Chennai, April 19
State Chief Minister M Karunanidhi has tried to shift focus from the Lankan Tamils’ issue towards the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project, in a bid to project it as the major poll issue.

Left’s support withdrawal a mistake: Somnath
New Delhi, April 19
Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee has described as a ‘mistake’ the withdrawal of the support by the Left parties to the UPA Government in July last year over the Indo-US nuclear deal and disclosed that he had cautioned against taking such a step.

Rickshaw pullers take part in a race in Kolkata
Rickshaw pullers take part in a race in Kolkata on Sunday. — Reuters

Food For Thought
Now, food packet flung at a politician
Panaji, April 19
Congress Rajya Sabha MP Shantaram Naik Saturday joined the growing list of politicians dodging “missiles” from the audience, after a food packet narrowly missed him during an election rally in a south Goa town yesterday.

Dhoni’s brother joins BJP
Ranchi, April 19
India cricket captain M S Dhoni’s elder brother Narendra Singh Dhoni today joined the BJP pledging to serve the interest of the party and Jharkhand.

Bring NET papers in public domain, CSIR told
New Delhi, April 19
The Central Information Commission has directed the CSIR to bring National Eligibility Test (NET) examination papers of previous years, kept under wraps till now, in public domain to improve the overall “processes” of administering and undertaking of exams in the country.

ISRO puts spy, educational satellites in orbit today
Chennai, April 19
The Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) rocket will put the country’s first all-weather spy and educational satellites into orbit tomorrow. The 229-tonne Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C12 (PSLV) will blast off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, 80 km north of here, at 6.45 a.m.

MIM chief in yet another row
Hyderabad, April 19
Hyderabad MP and president of Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) Asaduddin Owaisi has got involved in yet another controversy after accusing Andhra Pradesh Director-General of Police AK Mohanty of bias and challenging him to “shed his uniform and fight the political battle”.

Court cannot impose values on society: SC
New Delhi, April 19
The Supreme Court has held that courts cannot impose their values on society in the name of promoting public interest while dealing with administrative orders. “Public interest floats in a vast, deep-ocean of ideas, and ‘imagined experiences’. It would seem, to us, wise for the courts not to venture into this unchartered minefield.

Rane’s kin found dead
Mumbai, April 19
The body of the missing cousin of Industries Minister Narayan Rane was found near Kankavli town in Sindhudurg district, a senior police official said today. “From the preliminary information that we have received, it seems that the body found near Kankavli is that of Narayan Rane’s cousin Ankush,” DGP SS Virk told the media.





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BJP, BJD import veterans to clinch Puri segment
Aditi Tandon writes from Puri

Puri, the famous abode of Lord Jagannath in Orissa, is all but peaceful these days. Strained ahead of phase-II polls on April 23, it is preparing to test the political strength of two titans - both deserters of their respective ranks, both powerful in their own right.

On one end of the spectrum is Braja Kishore Tripathi, former BJD leader who quit the party after being denied a ticket from home segment. Now in the BJP, this four-time Puri MP is bracing to take on Pinaki Mishra, Congress veteran who defected to the BJD recently. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was quick to reward him with a ticket from the Puri parliamentary segment.

Mishra’s wealth - richest MP candidate in Orissa with assets worth over Rs 29 crore - might have something to do with his new political fortunes, but Tripathi is no novice either.

Seen in the constituency as a “homely politician” with roots in this coastal city, Tripathi is playing the emotional card to perfection. He has every reason to do so, considering the BJD didn’t really have much against him except that he strongly criticised the Bedanta group that was hastily acquiring thousands of acres in Puri.

For the BJD, this development didn’t augur well; the results showed, with the party allowing a veteran to join ranks. The BJD was, in fact, not expecting a docile Tripathi to make such a drastic career move.

For Tripathi, fight with Pinaki Mishra is not a new one. The two first locked horns in 1996 elections, when Mishra (then in the Congress) defeated Tripathi, the then sitting MP of Puri

Tripathi returned to clinch the seat in 1998 defeating Mishra by 52, 545 votes. In the two ensuing elections, too, Tripathi retained his hold over Puri, trouncing Mishra in 2004 by a margin of 60,960 votes.

While Tripathi is playing up against the BJD his new party’s “betrayal plank”, Pinaki is going about promising voters the moon. He has pockets of influence in the area, where people know him as a big man.

Besides, Pinaki has influential relatives - he’s the nephew of former chief justice Ranganath Mishra and son of Puri’s first MP Loknath Mishra. He is a respected Supreme Court lawyer.

But back in Puri, glamour alone does not do the trick. People like their peace here, which is why they talk more of Tripathi as a humble, well-meaning politician who did them good. In Pinaki, on the other hand, they see a powerful man, who can “get things done.”

Also in the fray in Puri is Congress’ Debendra Mansingh, not a natural choice for this LS seat. A three-time MLA from the Chilka assembly segment in Puri, Mohanty was hoping for a nomination from the same assembly area when the Congress sprung the name of youth leader Manas Mangaraj, instead.

For the Congress in Puri, stakes are naturally high. Also in the fray from the Brahmagiri Assembly seat here is the party’s emerging leader Laltendu Mahapatra, who some see as a possible choice for the Chief Minister’s position if the Congress comes to power.

As regards the BJD and BJP, Puri will prove a good testing ground for political fortunes in post-split times. Candidates of both parties are outsiders, with no moorings in their new homes. In such a scenario, who people see as the betrayer will be interesting to watch.

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Vote for ‘experienced’ Cong: Manmohan
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, April 19
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today called upon the people to vote for the “experienced” Congress to lead the country through the present troubled times and hit out at the BJP for failing to tackle terror during their rule.

Addressing a party’s election rally here at his “adopted home state”, Singh said: “India is located in such a corner of the world where the situation is not good at the moment. Moreover, most of the countries in the world are passing through a difficult phase. Economic recession has engulfed the world, thereby compounding unemployment. Terrorism and extremism have posed a grave threat. Only Congress party is capable of leading the country at this difficult juncture on the strength of its long experience in power.” “The Congress ‘hand’ is with the common man. We are committed to build a new developed India, for which we have undertaken many projects. The task has remained unfinished. We want more time. Congress needs at least five more years,” said Singh.

Greeting the people of Assam on the occasion of ‘Rongali Bihu’ (spring festival), he said: “Today, I am amid you not as the Prime Minister but a ‘sipahi’ (worker) of Congress. The UPA government at the Centre and the Congress government in Assam have strived for all-round development of the state. On the strength of it, I have come to ask for your vote for strengthening the hands of Congress and Sonia Gandhi.”

He lashed out at BJP for failing to tackle terror. “You have seen how strongly the UPA tackled terrorist strikes in Mumbai. Did the opposition parties also show such strength when they were in power at the Centre? What steps did the government take during their tenure to prevent terror strikes?” Singh asked. He accused ‘some’ rival parties of trying to divide people for votes.

Addressing the rally at a venue located about 10 km away from Maligaon where a powerful explosion triggered by ULFA militants had killed 10 persons on April 6 last, Dr Singh assured the people of Assam of rooting out terrorism.

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‘Recession will ease by Sept’
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, April 19
The country expects to recover from the affects of global economic crisis to some extent by September this year and hopes to improve the economic growth rate by over two per cent.

Talking to the media here, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said: “Global economic crisis has affected country’s exports, reduced the credit flow and resulted in lower growth rate. Our growth rate was 7 per cent during 2008-09. The country is estimated to grow at 6.5 per cent in the current financial year of 2009-10. We will recover from the recession at least partially by September this year and hope to once again achieve the growth rate of 8 to 9 per cent,” he said.

“The economic crisis was not our making. It has happened due to mishandling of financial system by major developed countries. It has precipitated credit crisis all over the world,” he added.

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PM, wife to cast vote in Guwahati on April 23

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and his wife Gurcharan Kaur would come to the city on April 23 to cast their votes in Guwahati parliamentary constituency.

“I and my wife will come here on April 23, the day of second phase polling, to cast our votes,” said Dr Singh, a Rajya Sabha MP from the state and a resident of the city as per official documents.

According to a source in the state election department, the voter number of the Prime Minister is 726 and that of his wife is 727. They would have to vote in polling station number 156 under 52 Dispur Legislative Assembly Constituency (LAC). His house number as mentioned in the electoral roll is 3,989.

Dr Singh, who has been representing Assam since 1991, is a tenant of Dr Hemo Prabha Saikia, a Congress leader and widow of former Assam Chief Minister late Hiteswar Saikia, as per the documents submitted before the Election Commission before becoming a Rajya Sabha member.

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Congress evades queries on post-poll alliance

New Delhi, April 19
Parrying questions on a possible tie-up with the Left after the Lok Sabha polls, Congress today said the party hoped not to take support of elements, which will be an “impediment” in its march towards progress.

Sounding confident of Congress retaining power, its leader Kapil Sibal was not forthcoming on whether the party will again seek support from the Left parties in the post-poll scenario.

“That I am not going to comment on. We will see on May 16 when the results come out as to what our strategy will be,” Sibal said when asked whether his party will seek support from the Left to make up the numbers.

Sibal, who is contesting from Chandni Chowk constituency, said the party is pretty confident of returning to power with the help of the allies.

“We hope that along with our partners we will come to power and that we do not have to take support of elements who will be an impediment in our march towards progress,” the Union Science and Technology Minister said.

“The mood is very much in favour of Congress. People want stability, they want a coalition that works and not one that disrupts the forward march of the nation,” he said.

Sibal claimed BJP is without issues in the election and people will not vote for the saffron party. “Unfortunately, BJP has no issue. Varun was an issue.

That is over. At one point in time, the global economic crisis was an issue and inflation was an issue, that too is over. It has no issue now and is fighting a battle bereft of issues. And it has no real leader which instills confidence in people,” he said.

Sibal also claimed Congress will emerge as the single largest party and form the government. “I think we will emerge the single largest party. We will be forming the Government. It will be a Congress-led Government.”

To another question, he asserted that the UPA was intact. His comment came in the backdrop of RJD, LJP and SP ganging up to form a ‘front’ within the UPA.

On RJD chief Lalu Prasad's remark that Congress was equally responsible for the demolition of the Babri mosque, Sibal said, “People can say such things sometimes when they face difficulty in election.”

The ties between Congress and its UPA ally RJD reached a low after Prasad left just three of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar for Congress, which retaliated by fielding candidates against the Railway minister and his party nominees. — PTI

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Sonia flays Advani, seeks to debunk his ‘strong leader’ claim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, April 19
Blaming the BSP for collapse of law and order in Uttar Pradesh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said criminals who should be behind bars were its candidates and threatening political rivals.

Addressing an election rally at here in support of Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee president Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Sonia did not even spare UPA partner - the Samajwadi Party - for cobbling together an opportunistic alliance to grab power.

However, the most hard-hitting attack was reserved for the BJP. “Do they know the meaning of Ramrajya? Did spreading hatred and violence have any place in such a rule?” she questioned.

Earlier, at another rally at Allahabad she mocked at BJP prime ministerial candidate LK Advani’s claim to be a “strong leader”.

Without naming him she questioning his handling of internal security saying “attacks on Parliament, Raghunath temple in Jammu and Akshardham in Gujarat took place when the mazboot neta (strong leader) was at the helm of affairs as the deputy prime minister also holding the Home portfolio”.

Without exactly referring to the RSS-BJP relationship, she defended her party by claiming that the Congress had never been “remote-controlled” by any other organisation

Citing Advani's Jinnah episode, the Congress president pointed out: “When the strong leader made an unfortunate statement, he had to disown it under pressure from another organisation that forced him to step down from the top post in his own party”.

She strongly reiterated that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would remain her party’s candidate for the top post after elections.

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Karat, Buddha differ on support to Congress
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, April 19
The CPM general secretary Prakash Karat and the West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee came out in public, contradicting themselves over CPM’s support to the Congress after the Lok Sabha polls.

Both leaders were now convinced that the Third Front government might not be a reality and might be a flop and this time also there would be a fractured verdict of the people.

But were convinced that the Left parties’ support would be very much needed to the Congress for opposing the BJP against coming to power. The veteran leader Jyoti Basu also expressed the same opinion.

But while Karat made it clear that in no case they would support the Congress whatever might be the consequences, the state chief minister affirmed publicly that the CPM would once again extend it’s support to the Congress against the BJP, which was Basu’s view.

However, Bhattacharjee insisted that the Congress should shift its ‘surrendering policy’ towards the US. The Chief Minister made this statement while addressing an election meeting at Siliguri in north Bengal on Friday.

Meanwhile, the External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said today UPA would once again come to power and they might need CPM’s support for forming the government.

The TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee asserted that they would win in at least 30 out of the 42 seats in the state against their present seven.

The CPM Politburo member Biman Bose, who is also the Left Front chairman, admitted this time the Left parties would lose some seats but he ruled out the possibility of the UPA forming the government once again.

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Unearthing Black Money
Time ripe to join global efforts, says Shourie
R Sedhuraman
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 19
The BJP today took the Congress to task on the issue of bringing back all the black money stashed away in tax havens abroad, with party leader Arun Shourie asserting that this was the right time for India to join the global efforts for effectively countering the parallel economy.

Referring to the reported Congress remarks questioning the timing of BJP prime ministerial nominee LK Advani’s suggestion, Shourie said a “unique opportunity” had been provided only now by the western economies. The G20, in a bid to deal with the problem of economic meltdown, pledged to “get their stolen wealth back from tax havens” at their recent summit in London, he pointed out.

The BJP leader clarified in a statement that Advani had, however, taken up the matter with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh exactly a year ago, upon which then Finance Minister P Chidambaram said the government was taking some steps.

But the BJP was “alarmed to learn” that a senior official of the Finance Ministry had written to the Indian Ambassador in Germany not to press the German government for release of the names of Indians in the list that it had obtained from a bank in Liechtenstein.

On Congress casting aspersions for replacing the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) with the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) in 2000, the BJP said the step had been welcomed by none other than Chidambaram, who had in fact begun the process when he was FM in the VP Singh government in 1998.

Even other political parties such as the JD(U), AIADMK, CPM, SP and BSP had also made similar demands and the NDA would “determinedly pursue” the issue if it came to power again, Shourie said.

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Jaya would be good PM: Vaiko
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, April 19
Despite AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa's assertion that she did not have Prime Ministerial ambitions, her ally and MDMK leader Vaiko today said such a scenario could not be ruled out and his party would extend its support for Jayalalithaa's candidature, as she was ‘able, strong and capable for the post.’

Hailing Jayalalithaa as a good administrator, Vaiko said she knew many languages and this would help her to communicate her ideas to people belonging to all the States. He was speaking to reporters after releasing his party's election manifesto. When asked about the contradiction between the AIADMK and MDMK on the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project, Vaiko said every party had its own policy and a different approach to issues. The project should be implemented with some changes so that heavier ships could travel through it, he said.

Despite the efforts of United States and Britain to discuss the Sri Lankan Tamils issue at its security council meeting, such discussions were not taking place, since China and Russia were blocking it due to the insistence of the Congress-led government at the Centre, he charged. The MDMK leader, whose sustained campaign brought the Sri Lankan Tamils issue to the centre stage of Tamil Nadu politics, said the LTTE could not be defeated by the Sri Lankan army, which was only killing hundreds of civilians everyday.

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Mamata, Pranab stranded as chopper runs out of fuel

Kolkata, April 19
Congress heavyweight Pranab Mukherjee and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, who kickstarted their joint Lok Sabha poll campaign Sunday, were stranded at the northern West Bengal town of Balurghat after their helicopter ran out of fuel.

Mukherjee and Banerjee, who held their first joint meeting at Balurghat, were stranded for over one-and-half hours as the authorities rushed in fuel from nearby Malda.

“After landing in Balurghat, the pilot told the duo that the copter needed refuelling, and he will fly it again after that. So, after the meeting, the two leaders had to wait in the town,” an aide of Mukherjee said.

Another source claimed that the fuel stock in the helicopter got depleted, as it had to hover in the sky for over 45 minutes before landing in Balaurghat as the air traffic control delayed giving landing permission. But the aide did not confirm this. — IANS

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Karuna tries to shift focus to Sethu project
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, April 19
State Chief Minister M Karunanidhi has tried to shift focus from the Lankan Tamils’ issue towards the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project, in a bid to project it as the major poll issue.

Referring to the AIADMK’s election manifesto, that it would scrap the project, the DMK leader, who launched the election campaign at a public meeting here last night, asked, “Are you (the people) going to give power to Jayalalithaa to scrap the project?”

Recalling the AIADMK’s election manifesto for the 2001 Assembly election and 2004 Lok Sabha elections, which called for the implementation of the scheme, Karunanidhi questioned how something which was believed to be a good scheme in 2001 and 2004 had become bad now.

The Chief Minister said it was dream project for the DMK founder Anna and charged that the AIADMK which had added Anna’s name as its prefix and using his image in its flag was betraying the ideals of the late leader. The scheme was beneficial to the state and would lead to economic prosperity of the backward southern districts. He said Tamils would be harming themselves if they voted for the AIADMK. The DMK leader did not utter a single word on the Lankan Tamils’ issue throughout his speech.

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Left’s support withdrawal a mistake: Somnath

Somnath Chatterjee New Delhi, April 19
Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee has described as a ‘mistake’ the withdrawal of the support by the Left parties to the UPA Government in July last year over the Indo-US nuclear deal and disclosed that he had cautioned against taking such a step.

Asked if withdrawal of support was a mistake like the decision not to join the government in 1996, Chatterjee said, “Yes, very much so. I had sent a note to them (CPI-M). I told them don't give up your stand against the nuclear deal, oppose it. Say that the party will not be bound, warn the government, warn the people of the serious consequences that may be there.”

Chatterjee, who was expelled from the CPI-M after refusing to vote against the confidence motion last year, said he cautioned them against the move and told them, “Don't withdraw because you are only encouraging certain forces in the country which we have all been fighting against.” — PTI

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Food For Thought
Now, food packet flung at a politician

Panaji, April 19
Congress Rajya Sabha MP Shantaram Naik Saturday joined the growing list of politicians dodging “missiles” from the audience, after a food packet narrowly missed him during an election rally in a south Goa town yesterday.

Naik, who hails from South Goa, was addressing an election rally in the mining town of Curchorem, when a Congress party worker, identified as Rama Desai flung a food packet at him.

As he flung the packet that narrowly missed Naik, Desai shouted: “Tumhi sogle fatting (all of you are liars)”.

Desai was immediately whisked by the police and booked under Section 151 of the IPC.

Naik, Goa’s only Rajya Sabha MP, said he had asked the police only to enquire into the matter and not file a formal complaint against Desai.

“The man had invited me for a public function, which I could not attend due to other obligations,” Naik said, when asked if he knew his “assailant”.

In the recent past, senior politicians like Home Minister P Chidambaram and BJP prime ministerial candidate LK Advani have been the targets of things thrown by members of their audience. While a journalist flung his shoe at the Home Minister during a press conference, a wooden sandal was thrown at Advani during a public rally last week. — IANS

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Dhoni’s brother joins BJP

Ranchi, April 19
India cricket captain M S Dhoni’s elder brother Narendra Singh Dhoni today joined the BJP pledging to serve the interest of the party and Jharkhand.

“L K Advani is my idol and I follow his ideals. I want to serve the party and work for the betterment of the people of the state,” Narendra told reporters after joining the saffron party.

To a question on what inspired him to join politics, Narendra said when he saw thousands of deprived people around him, he felt like helping them out. “And with Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L K Advani in its ranks, I find the BJP to be the perfect platform from where I can work for the people,” he said.

“I am also impressed with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s work in his state,” the 38-year-old Narendra said.

He, however, parried a question when asked whether his cricketer brother would follow suit, saying this was a query the media should ask Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

On whether he would contest the assembly elections in Jharkhand which is under President’s Rule now, he said “I have not thought of it. Right now I have joined BJP and my first priority is to serve the party in whatever capacity. I will now campaign for our party’s Ranchi candidate Ram Tahal Chaudhary.” — PTI

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Bring NET papers in public domain, CSIR told

New Delhi, April 19
The Central Information Commission has directed the CSIR to bring National Eligibility Test (NET) examination papers of previous years, kept under wraps till now, in public domain to improve the overall “processes” of administering and undertaking of exams in the country.

Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi in his hard hitting order had asked CSIR to provide the information free of cost to the appellant before April 25.

Refuting the CSIR’s contention that “if question papers are in public domain the scientific interest of the state will be affected”, the CIC said, “Transparency will only improve all institutions and processes”.

Disallowing the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR) contention that disclosing the examination papers would “expose the CSIR examinations system”, the CIC in its order said: “If a student can really master all fundamentals of the science and technology portion, no exam system can really want to test anything else”.

The CIC also dismissed CSIR’s stand that “there is a limited scope of framing questions as the basic concept and their interpretation are established facts”.

Asking the examiners to rather work on their expertise, the CIC stated: “On the other hand if the academics feel that their examinations are not able to test the fundamental understanding of students, but favours a learning by rote, the people setting papers need to challenge and improve themselves.”

An applicant from Jind in Haryana, under the RTI last year, had asked for question papers and their model answers of the National Eligibility Test (NET) examination conducted by the CSIR and UGC and undertaken by candidates for lectureship during the years 2006, 2007 and 2008.

The commission also exemplified the trend in foreign countries by stating that “there are a number of Institutions worldwide which hold examinations and also put their question papers in public domain, and yet they have continued, none of them has felt that the process has been compromised”.

The CSIR, country’s premier scientific Research and Development organisation, in its stand for refusing the information to the applicant had apprehended that such an RTI query is in cahoot with the commercial interest of some publisher of help books and such an exposure (of the question papers) may make the examination vulnerable to coaching institutes with commercial interests.

The commission also found the CSIR’s contention as “erroneous” that the GATE exam papers are not disclosed as these “papers are taken away by the candidates with them after the exam”. — PTI

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ISRO puts spy, educational satellites in orbit today

Chennai, April 19
The Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) rocket will put the country’s first all-weather spy and educational satellites into orbit tomorrow.

The 229-tonne Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C12 (PSLV) will blast off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, 80 km north of here, at 6.45 a.m. The rocket’s payload or the luggage will have Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT-2), which can see through fog, clouds and even at night, and Anusat, the first educational satellite developed by the Anna University.

A rocket navigation system developed by the ISRO will be guiding the PSLV on its 15th flight.

ISRO first tested its new avionics systems called Advanced Avionics Module (AAM) on board PSLV that was launched in April 2007 with two equipment bays.

The first bay had ISRO’s regular navigation systems while the second one had the 185 kg AAM. The weight was lower than the existing navigation systems.

Satisfied with the test flight results, the Indian space agency initially thought of inducting the indigenous systems into operation first in its bigger rocket Geo Synchronous Launch Vehicle (GSLV) and later in PSLV. However, the scheme of deployment has been reversed now.

“The ISRO developed microprocessor Vikram is faster than what is being used till date,” S. Satish, director of publications and public relations, said.

While ISRO officials termed RISAT-2 - an all weather satellite to be used for remote sensing purposes - the presence of a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) built by Israel Aerospace Industries gives it defence capabilities.

None of ISRO’s other remote sensing satellites are equipped with the SAR. ISRO is in the process of developing its own SAR that will be fitted on a much bigger satellite. — IANS

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MIM chief in yet another row
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, April 19
Hyderabad MP and president of Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) Asaduddin Owaisi has got involved in yet another controversy after accusing Andhra Pradesh Director-General of Police AK Mohanty of bias and challenging him to “shed his uniform and fight the political battle”.

The sensational allegation was made by Owaisi, a day after the police booked a case of rioting against him for beating up a polling agent of a rival party during the polling in the city on April 16.

Charging the DGP with being partisan, the MP said the police chief had “colluded” with the main opposition, Telugu Desam Party (TDP), and started harassing the MIM activists. The TDP had fielded a noted journalist and editor of a local Urdu daily Zahid Ali Khan for Hyderabad LS seat, which has been a traditional stronghold of the MIM. The MIM has been continuously winning the seat since 1984.

Owaisi alleged that the DGP had made at least 25 telephone calls to the TDP candidate on the polling day and had personally visited several areas in the old city.

“He has brought disrepute to the post of DGP. We had been saying from the beginning that he cannot do justice. He tried to victimise us. He set policemen after us,” the MP said.

Meanwhile, the state Chief Electoral Officer IV Subba Rao took suo motu notice of Owaisi’s allegation and examined the CDs containing the MP’s remarks made before the media. The Election Commission is likely to issue a show cause notice to Owaisi for his intemperate remarks.

The poll panel had last month appointed Mohanty, a 1975 batch IPS officer, for the top post after SSP Yadav was removed as police chief for publicly praising the State Chief Minister and the ruling party.

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Court cannot impose values on society: SC

New Delhi, April 19
The Supreme Court has held that courts cannot impose their values on society in the name of promoting public interest while dealing with administrative orders.

“Public interest floats in a vast, deep-ocean of ideas, and ‘imagined experiences’. It would seem, to us, wise for the courts not to venture into this unchartered minefield.

“We are not exercising our will. We cannot impose our own values on society. Any such effort would mean to make value judgements,” a Bench of Justices Lokeshwar Singh Panta and B Sudershan Reddy observed.

The Bench passed the observations while setting aside a judgement of the Allahabad High Court which had directed allotment of a certain plot in Meerut to an educational institution, Association of Management Studies (AMS).

The High Court ordered allotment of the land to AMS on ground that it was carrying out a noble task of imparting education which was in “public interest”.

The direction was passed despite the fact that there were other higher bidders for the plot and that the AMS was willing to pay only Rs 560 per sq yard and not even the reserve price of Rs 690 per sq yard fixed by the Meerut Development Authority (MDA).

Aggrieved by the direction, the MDA and the successful bidder Pawan Kumar filed the SLPs in the apex court challe-nging the high court's direction. — PTI

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Rane’s kin found dead

Mumbai, April 19
The body of the missing cousin of Industries Minister Narayan Rane was found near Kankavli town in Sindhudurg district, a senior police official said today. “From the preliminary information that we have received, it seems that the body found near Kankavli is that of Narayan Rane’s cousin Ankush,” DGP SS Virk told the media.

“A case of murder has been registered and further investigations are on in the matter,” he said, adding that measures are being taken to ensure law and order in the area.

Police officials at Kankavli said the body of Ankush, who went missing on Friday, was found approximately 25 km from Kankavali near Nandgaon. “The face of the body had disfigured but other things indicated that it was the body of Ankush,” SP (Sindhudurg) Ravindra Shisve said. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

Ahilya RangnekarCommunist leader dead
MUMBAI:
Veteran Communist leader Ahilya Rangnekar passed away here today following a heart attack. She was 89. Rangnekar died at her Matunga residence in central Mumbai, family sources said. She was a member of the Central Comittee of CPM and also a former MP. She won in 1977 from Mumbai North Central constituency. — PTI

Boy imitates stunt, dies
LUCKNOW:
A class three student died after he accidentally hanged himself trying to repeat a ‘stunt’ aired on a television channel in Vikas Nagar area here. Chandan Singh (9) died after he accidentally hanged himself while trying to perform the stunt after watching a reality show on the television yesterday, station officer Vikas Nagar police station Sanjay Rai said. He said that the boy was rushed to the hospital by his uncle where doctor declared him brought dead. The boy lived with his uncle who is a bank officer. — PTI

Woman dies as activists clash
Rajahmundry (AP):
A 60-year-old woman died on Monday after receiving injuries during a clash between activists of the Congress and Praja Rajyam Party (PRP), forcing the police to fire three rounds in the air to disperse the two groups at a village in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. The woman, identified as Subbamma, is suspected to have suffered injuries while witnessing the clash which broke out last night at Gudala village of Allavaram Mandal in the district, the police said. — PTI

FIR against Raja Bhaiya
PRATAPGARH:
An FIR has been filed against independent MLA from Kunda Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya for allegedly holding a roadshow in Kaushambi Lok Sabha constituency without the permission of the district administration. Station Officer of Baghrai police station DT Tiwari said, “An FIR was filed against Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya yesterday for holding a roadshow in Kaushambi on Friday without the permission of the district administration”. He said that the FIR has been registered under section 188 of CrPC for violation of section 144. — PTI

Invigilator booked
MUZAFFARNAGAR:
Police have registered a criminal case against a college invigilator in Saharanpur for allegedly making casteist remarks at a Dalit student while he was taking his exams. Subodh Lalit, a final year arts student in Maharaj Singh college, was taking his exams on April one when invigilator KA Sharma snatched his papers and made casteist remarks at him, police sources said. On the direction of DIG Depesh Juneja, police booked Sharma under the SC/ST Atrocities Prevention Act and other sections of the IPC. — PTI

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