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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Cong sees ally in BJD
But wants Naveen Patnaik to snap ties with BJP
New Delhi, April 23
Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik may have said he would not show “any flexibility or elasticity” to support a Congress-led government at the Centre, but the Congress today indicated that it would be willing to do business with his Biju Janata Dal (BJD) provided it snapped all its ties with its friend-turned-foe BJP.

Andhra Pradesh records high polling in final phase
Hyderabad, April 23
Barring stray incidents of group clashes, the second and final phase of polling in Andhra Pradesh was peaceful with nearly 70 per cent of the voters exercising their franchise in 10 districts.

55 pc turnout in Orissa
Bhubaneswar, April 23
Around 55 per cent of the 1.45 crore electorate exercised their franchise in 11 Lok Sabha and 77 Assembly constituencies in the second and last phase of polling in Orissa today at the close of polling, official sources said here.


EARLIER STORIES



Voters hold their identity cards as they stand in a queue to cast their votes in Hazipur, Bihar, on Thursday. — PTI

Heat keeps voters indoors in Maharashtra
Mumbai, April 23
The second phase of polling in Maharashtra recorded a moderate turnout of around 48 per cent as soaring temperatures kept people indoors. According to information available from the Election Commission here, voting got off to a slow start with a 25 per cent turnout being reported till 2 pm. The weather bureau said temperatures touched 42 degrees in some parts of Marathwada where elections were held today.

Cong will form next govt: PM
Guwahati, April 23
Casting his vote here, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today exuded confidence that there would be a Congress-led government at the Centre. Dr Singh accompanied by his wife Gursharan Kaur flew down from New Delhi to cast their votes here at Dispur Government High School under the Guwahati parliamentary constituency. Talking to media persons waiting, the Prime Minister said: “It will be a Congress-led government at the Centre. We will win by thumping majority.”

Dr Manmohan Singh with his wife Gursharan Kaur after casting their votes in Dispur on Thursday. — PTI

UPA has many PM candidates: BJP
New Delhi, April 23
The BJP appears quite enthused after the second round of polling in the elections and claims that it will attain a comfortable majority in the new Lok Sabha.

Moderate polling in Bangalore constituencies
Bangalore, April 23
The polling percentage for the first round of elections in 17 out of the total 28 constituencies of Karnataka was about 55 per cent according to preliminary estimates.

Strike paralyses life in TN
Chennai, April 23
Normal life was totally disrupted in Tamil Nadu as buses owned by the government as well as private companies did not operate, due to the 12-hour dawn-to-dusk state wide general strike called by the ruling DMK on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue.

Hazratbal Assembly bypoll cancelled
New Delhi, April 23
The Election Commission (EC) today decided to cancel the bypoll to the Hazratbal Assembly seat of Jammu and Kashmir following improper acceptance of the nomination form of ruling National Conference candidate Mustafa Kamal, brother of party chief Farooq Abdullah.

Derogatory Remarks
EC issues guidelines to political parties
Chandigarh, April 23
Taking a strong note of the leaders indulging in personal attacks on the character or conduct of the candidates of rival parties, the Election Commission has issued detailed guidelines to the political parties and candidates for maintaining high standards of campaign to be observed during the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

UPA allies warm up to Left
Baramati/Patna, April 23
Three prominent non-Congress leaders in the UPA, including Sharad Pawar and Lalu Prasad, today sought to reach out to Left parties describing them as “our friends” whose “blessings” could be required in the post-poll scenario.

Narayanan, Menon to visit Lanka today
New Delhi, April 23
Rattled by the magnitude of the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka due to the ongoing military action against the LTTE, India is sending National Security Adviser MK Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon to Colombo to demand an immediate end to hostilities in the island nation.

PC finds fault in Lankan policy
Sivaganga (TN), April 23
Union Home Minister P Chidambaram today said both the LTTE and Sri Lanka were not paying heed to India’s request to end hostilities but felt Colombo was “more at fault” as it thought military solution could end the strife.

Escaped ISI agent nabbed
Dausa (Rajasthan), April 23
A suspected Pakistani ISI agent, who escaped from police custody yesterday, was arrested from near a temple in Todabheem town of Karauli district after people saw him under suspicious circumstances.

 





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Cong sees ally in BJD
But wants Naveen Patnaik to snap ties with BJP
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 23
Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik may have said he would not show “any flexibility or elasticity” to support a Congress-led government at the Centre, but the Congress today indicated that it would be willing to do business with his Biju Janata Dal (BJD) provided it snapped all its ties with its friend-turned-foe BJP.

On the possibility of a post-poll alliance with the BJP’s former Orissa ally-the BJD-Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said to enter into any alliance the Congress would first ensure that any party that had earlier been in alliance with the Saffron party had completely severed all its ties with it and was coming without any baggage from the past.

“We cannot speculate on hypothetical situations. Everything will be discussed in light of figures after the election results are declared. But we are sure that any party (like the BJD), which has been in alliance with the BJP has severed its entire ties with it,” he said, quoting the example of the Congress’ recent alliance with Trinamool Congress in West Bengal.

The Congress spokesman said until the party was sure that the Trinamool, a partner in the BJP-led NDA government, had completely severed its links with the BJP, the Congress was not ready for any “truck” with it.

Incidentally, as far as Patnaik is concerned, he has made its absolutely clear that his party would not extend support to either the Congress or the BJP-led government at the Centre. “My party's stand is quite clear that it is not at all flexible in giving support to either the Congress or a BJP-led government at the Centre. There is no flexibility or elasticity on our part (in this regard),” agency reports quoted Patnaik as saying.

Patnaik, whose party chose to severe ties with the BJP after communal violence hit Kandhamal, also said he preferred that the Congress and the BJP were not a part of the government to be formed at the Centre after the elections. “We are quite confident that we will secure majority on our own,” he said.

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Andhra Pradesh records high polling in final phase
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, April 23
Barring stray incidents of group clashes, the second and final phase of polling in Andhra Pradesh was peaceful with nearly 70 per cent of the voters exercising their franchise in 10 districts.

The skirmishes broke out in the faction-ridden Kadapa, home district of Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy, as the Congress and the Telugu Desam Party workers clashed at four different places, prompting the police to fire in the air to quell the mob.

The incidents of violence and miscreants damaging EVMs were also reported from Guntur, Prakasam, Nellore, Kurnool and Anantapur districts.

The police fired in air to disperse clashing workers of the TDP and the Congress at Nagasanipalli village under Maidukur Assembly segment in Kadapa district. The rivals hurled crude bombs at each other leading to tension in the area.

In another incident, a group of women, said to be the supporters of the TDP, threw slippers at Congress legislator DL Ravindra Reddy and his gunmen, prompting the police to resort to mild cane charge at Chapadu mandal.

The clashes were also reported from Pulivendula Assembly segment from where the Chief Minister is seeking re-election. The police also fired in air to control violent groups at Kuchhurpapaypalli village and opened fire in Chinnaganjam in Prakasam district following clashes between the Congress and TDP activists.

Tension prevailed near a polling station in temple town of Tirupati when the Congress and TDP workers tried to prevent superstar Chiranjeevi from visiting the booth. The actor is contesting from Tirupati.

The second phase, covering 20 Lok Sabha and 140 Assembly seats in south coastal belt and Rayalaseema regions, has become a high-stake game for the main contenders for power. All the three chief ministerial aspirants-Rajasekhar Reddy, TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu and Chiranjeevi - are in the fray.

Meanwhile, re-polling has been ordered in 24 polling stations in Kadapa, Anantapur, Guntur and Prakasam districts following incidents of violence, state Chief Electoral Officer IV Subba Rao said.

Meanwhile, the police placed two candidates of the Congress and the TDP in Guntur district under house arrest to ensure peaceful polling. Minister for Ports and Airports M Venkataramana Rao from Repalle and his rival A Satyaprasad were put under house arrest following complaints that they were indulging in electoral malpractices.

In the absence of any major national or regional issues, the caste factor is expected to dominate the second phase of polling.

Assertion of caste identities has been a notable feature of the poll campaign in the region. Chiranjeevi’s fledgling Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) is expected to make a big impact in the coastal belt, cutting into the traditional vote banks of the two main contenders for power - the Congress and the TDP.

The voting pattern of the numerically dominant “Kapu” community in coastal region, to which the actor belongs, will become crucial in the final tally as the first phase of polling, covering 22 Lok Sabha and 154 Assembly seats on April 16, did not give any indications of a clear winner.

There are 254 candidates in fray for 20 LS seats and 1,822 aspirants for 140 Assembly seats.

The prominent among them are Union ministers M Pallam Raju and P Lakshmi, veteran actors U Krishnam Raju and Murali Mohan and Chief Minister’s industrialist-son YS Jaganmohan Reddy.

As many as 10 state ministers are seeking re-election in the second phase of the elections.

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55 pc turnout in Orissa


A tribal woman looks at a poster of EVM before casting her vote in Bhubaneswar on Thursday. — PTI

Bhubaneswar, April 23
Around 55 per cent of the 1.45 crore electorate exercised their franchise in 11 Lok Sabha and 77 Assembly constituencies in the second and last phase of polling in Orissa today at the close of polling, official sources said here.

The polling process witnessed boycott in some areas and stray incidents of violence in which ten people were injured.

Voters at Dhinkia and Gobindpur villages in the proposed POSCO steel plant area near Paradip in Balikuda-Erasama Assembly segment of Jagatsinghpur Lok Sacha constituency boycotted the polls, protesting the shifting of four booths.

The booths had been shifted fearing trouble by anti-POSCO activists, the sources said, adding that, efforts by CPI leaders to persuade the voters failed.

Two vehicles of BJD candidates Damodar Rout and Bishnu Das were damaged by miscreants, the police said.

The poll was also boycotted in about 24 booths at Rairangpur and Jashipur of Mayurbhanj district, Tentuliapada in Angul and some places in Balasore and Bhadrak for non-fulfilment of demands for drinking water, roads and electricity.

Ten persons were injured in clashes between rival groups at Pipili, Brahmagiri and Satyabadi areas of Puri district. Crude bombs were hurled during the clashes, the sources said. — PTI

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Heat keeps voters indoors in Maharashtra
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, April 23
The second phase of polling in Maharashtra recorded a moderate turnout of around 48 per cent as soaring temperatures kept people indoors. According to information available from the Election Commission here, voting got off to a slow start with a 25 per cent turnout being reported till 2 pm. The weather bureau said temperatures touched 42 degrees in some parts of Marathwada where elections were held today.

However, the turnout picked up towards close as temperatures dropped later in the day. Election officials say the turnout figures are usually revised upwards after all numbers are tabulated several hours after voting closes.

The second phase of elections, which saw voting in 25 seats, passed off peacefully with only a few minor incidents being reported. In Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg, supporters of the Shiv Sena ran amok in an attempt to disrupt polls after the local administration ordered Sanjay Raut, its Rajya Sabha MP and editor of party mouthpiece Saamna, to leave the constituency.

Congress leader Narayan Rane had protested to the Election Commission that Raut should be asked to leave the place since he was not a registered voter there. Rane, whose son Nilesh is the Congress candidate there, accused Raut of having a hand in the murder of his cousin Ankush last week.

In all 372 candidates, including 20 women, were in the fray in the 25 constituencies where elections were held today. The third and last phase of polling in Maharashtra will be held on April 30 when elections to 10 seats will be held.

Among those whose fate will be decided today include prominent politicians like Sharad Pawar, A R Antulay, Sushilkumar Shinde and Suresh Prabhu. While Pawar is contesting from Madha constituency, his daughter Supriya Sule is the candidate from old stronghold Baramati. Shinde is contesting from Solapur while Anutlay is trying his luck from Raigad.

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Cong will form next govt: PM
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, April 23
Casting his vote here, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today exuded confidence that there would be a Congress-led government at the Centre.

Dr Singh accompanied by his wife Gursharan Kaur flew down from New Delhi to cast their votes here at Dispur Government High School under the Guwahati parliamentary constituency.

Talking to media persons waiting, the Prime Minister said: “It will be a Congress-led government at the Centre. We will win by thumping majority.” When asked whether there was any scope of a Congress-Left tie-up, he said: “I can’t comment on it at this moment.”

In response to another query he said he was not tense about the Congress’ chances in the second phase polling today. The PM and his wife briefly waited for their turns along with other voters in the queue before casting their votes.

However, Principal of the school Bilibala Devi waited in vain to talk to the PM. “Though I wanted to talk to the PM to facilitate overall development of the school, I couldn’t do so. But I have no complaints about it,” she said.

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UPA has many PM candidates: BJP
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service


BJP leader Sushma Swaraj casts her vote at a polling station in Bhopal on Thursday. — PTI

New Delhi, April 23
The BJP appears quite enthused after the second round of polling in the elections and claims that it will attain a comfortable majority in the new Lok Sabha.

“The UPA, which has almost disintegrated, is a multi-PM candidate alliance while ours is a one-PM candidate alliance,” BJP spokesman Prakash Javdekar told reporters here.

He argued that the UPA had no ideology and no clear-cut programme while the NDA was a pre-poll ideological alliance. “Our ideological ‘parivar’ is united while the Congress has only one ‘parivar’…dynastic politics has recoiled on the Congress,” he added.

The BJP spokesman said people all over the country were fed up with the ‘family politics’ being pursued by the Congress. Many of the UPA allies had left the Congress because of the party’s arrogance, he said.

Noting that the electoral process had been completed in 265 seats and 12 states, Javdekar said the BJP’s internal assessment was that it would do well in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Goa, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, among the states which had witnessed voting so far. In Bihar too, the BJP, along with its ally Janata Dal (U), would corner a large number of seats, he said.

In the BJP’s assessment, the Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa would also throw up hung houses and the saffron party would hold the key to power. “The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) would regret snapping ties with the BJP after the polls,” Jadvdekar claimed.

Meanwhile, BJP sources noted that many of the Third Front constituents were keenly watching which way the wind was blowing in the election. Many of the BJP leaders were in touch with key constituents of the Third Front, which could support the saffron party should it emerge as the single- largest party.

There is also a view among senior BJP leaders that Orissa Chief Minister Navin Patnaik would have no choice but to again align with the BJP if his party failed to cross the half-way mark in the state Assembly.

In Andhra Pradesh, the BJP believes that the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) of N Chandrababu Naidu might require the BJP’s support after the polls. In return, he would have little hesitation in supporting the BJP at the Centre.

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Moderate polling in Bangalore constituencies
Shubhadeep Choudhury

Tribune News Service

Bangalore, April 23
The polling percentage for the first round of elections in 17 out of the total 28 constituencies of Karnataka was about 55 per cent according to preliminary estimates.

Chickaballapur, from where Congress leader Veerappa Moily is contesting, showed a polling figure of 60 per cent, which is among the highest in the state. Chikkodi constituency - where a three-cornered contest involving the BJP, the Congress and the BSP was on - also recorded a high polling percentage.

Voting in three Bangalore constituencies — South, Central and North — was moderate despite some NGOs claiming to have done a widespread campaign to motivate the voters to cast their votes.

Bangalore South constituency recorded around 50 per cent voting. It has BJP general secretary Ananth Kumar, who is seeking re-election for the fifth time, facing Congress's young face Krishna Byre Gowda and aviation trendsetter Capt. GR Gopinath.

Bangalore North, from where Congress representative and former Railways Minister CK Jaffer Sharief (Cong) is contesting, was in the third position in Bangalore with around 45 per cent polling.

Bangalore Central, from where former city police commissioner HT Sangliana is contesting on a Congress ticket after crossing over from the BJP, showed a figure of 48 per cent.

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Strike paralyses life in TN
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, April 23
Normal life was totally disrupted in Tamil Nadu as buses owned by the government as well as private companies did not operate, due to the 12-hour dawn-to-dusk state wide general strike called by the ruling DMK on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue.

Bus drivers and conductors belonging to the DMK unions did not attend work today, while workers belonging to other unions complained that the officials in the bus depots refused to provide buses to them. Most of the drivers said the officials threatened the workers that they would be held responsible, if there was any damage to the bus by protesters.

Since, most of the bus depots were closed and no buses were allowed to operate, public transport was totally disrupted and the attendance in government and private offices was thin. Most industrial units and shops remained closed in busy areas.

Autorickshaws and vans too were off the roads. However, train services operated. The Tamil cinema industry suspended all its activities today and shows in cinema halls were cancelled.

Train services were not affected and most trains were packed with passengers due to non-availability of buses. Police said no untoward incident was reported from any part of the state so far. Service at the airport remained unaffected and flights operated as per schedule.

Arterial roads wore a deserted look following the strike, with only private vehicles plying on the road.

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Hazratbal Assembly bypoll cancelled

New Delhi, April 23
The Election Commission (EC) today decided to cancel the bypoll to the Hazratbal Assembly seat of Jammu and Kashmir following improper acceptance of the nomination form of ruling National Conference candidate Mustafa Kamal, brother of party chief Farooq Abdullah.

“There has been an improper acceptance of the nomination of NC candidate by the returning officer,” Deputy Election Commissioner R Balakrishnan told reporters here.

The Assembly seat, which fell vacant after Farooq Abdullah resigned on being elected to the Rajya Sabha, was scheduled to go to the polls again on May 7 along with the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency.

The nomination papers of Kamal were accepted yesterday by the returning officer of Hazratbal. The general secretary of the NC had not mentioned the name of the candidate in the relevant column. — PTI

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Derogatory Remarks
EC issues guidelines to political parties

Chandigarh, April 23
Taking a strong note of the leaders indulging in personal attacks on the character or conduct of the candidates of rival parties, the Election Commission has issued detailed guidelines to the political parties and candidates for maintaining high standards of campaign to be observed during the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Stating this here today, a spokesman of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) said the candidates were often observed making intemperate and derogatory remarks against each other in their election speeches at public meeting and rallies, giving rise to communal hatred, disharmony or ill-will and aggravating the differences between classes of citizens on grounds of religion, caste and community.

Giving details of the guidelines, the spokesman said no party or candidate shall indulge in any activity that might aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different castes and communities, religion or linguistic. — PTI

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UPA allies warm up to Left

Baramati/Patna, April 23
Three prominent non-Congress leaders in the UPA, including Sharad Pawar and Lalu Prasad, today sought to reach out to Left parties describing them as “our friends” whose “blessings” could be required in the post-poll scenario.

At the same time, NCP chief Pawar and LJP supremo Ram Vilas Paswan differed on the issue of UPA’s PM candidate with the former saying that a decision will be taken later while the latter rooting for Manmohan Singh.

“I honestly feel that this time we require the blessings and support of the Left parties. That is why from the first day, I have been consistently saying to all my colleagues in the UPA that let us keep a good rapport with the Left,” Pawar said.

Striking a similar note, the RJD chief said doors were “still open” for a post-poll alliance with the Left in the event of the UPA not being in a position to form a government.

“We had difference with the Left only over the civilian nuclear deal and nothing else. We have been friends with CPM for a long time,” Prasad told reporters in Patna. — PTI

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Narayanan, Menon to visit Lanka today
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 23
Rattled by the magnitude of the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka due to the ongoing military action against the LTTE, India is sending National Security Adviser MK Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon to Colombo to demand an immediate end to hostilities in the island nation.

Indian envoy in Sri Lanka Alok Prasad, meanwhile, was called in here by the Indian leadership to get a first-hand account of the situation in the island nation.

In a statement, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said India was unhappy at the continued killings in Sri Lanka. All killings must stop. There must be an immediate cessation of all hostilities.

“In order to convey these concerns to the Government of Sri Lanka, the Government of India has decided to send two special emissaries to Sri Lanka,’’ he said.

Official sources said Narayanan and the foreign secretary would leave for Colombo tomorrow. The Indian High Commissioner in Colombo briefed the External Affairs Minister and the Foreign Secretary on the developments in Sri Lanka and how the offensive has affected thousands of civilians, the sources added.

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PC finds fault in Lankan policy

Sivaganga (TN), April 23
Union Home Minister P Chidambaram today said both the LTTE and Sri Lanka were not paying heed to
India’s request to end hostilities but felt Colombo was “more at fault” as it thought military solution could end the strife.

Stating that the Sri Lankan Tamils issue was a humanitarian one and there was need to protect the lives of the people, he said India had asked the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE to stop the hostilities.

“We have been making the demand continuously for many days. But both the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government are not paying heed to our request,” he said.

However, the Sri Lankan government was more at fault regarding the ongoing battle because they were thinking that military solution could end the strife, he told reporters after filing his nomination papers from Sivaganga Lok Sabha constituency.

“The issue cannot be resolved by the army. It has to be resolved through negotiations. The Tamils should be given equal respect, status and right. Tamil dominated one or two provinces should be made states with equal rights within the Sri Lankan federal set up,” he said. — PTI

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Escaped ISI agent nabbed

Dausa (Rajasthan), April 23
A suspected Pakistani ISI agent, who escaped from police custody yesterday, was arrested from near a temple in Todabheem town of Karauli district after people saw him under suspicious circumstances.

Adil Anjum Nazzir Ahmed, facing charges of passport forgery, had shaved off his beard after buying a razor from a local shop there, leading to suspicion among villagers, SP (Dausa) Nishar Ahmed said. — PTI

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