SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Politico-militant nexus again to fore
in Assam

BPF leader says he paid ultras for peace during 2004 polls
Guwahati, April 26
The alleged nexus between politicos and militant groups in Assam has once again come to the fore with a Bodo People’s Front (BPF) leader claiming to have bought peace during the 2004 Parliamentary polls by paying money to ultras.

Priyanka’s security breached
Lucknow, April 26
The Congress party’s star campaigner Priyanka Gandhi’s security cordon was broken twice today when she was electioneering for her mother Sonia Gandhi in Uttar Pradesh’s Rae Bareli constituency. While the police say there was “nothing incriminating”, the attempts to breach the heavy security have sent top administration of the state in a tizzy.
Priyanka Vadra waves during an election campaign in her mother’s constituency Rae Bareli on Sunday. — PTI
Priyanka Vadra waves during an election campaign in her mother’s constituency Rae Bareli on Sunday.

TRS keeps post-poll options open
Hyderabad, April 26
Indicating a possible re-alignment of political forces after elections, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) has said it was willing to join hands with any party or coalition that supported Telangana statehood cause.





EARLIER STORIES

NCP leader Sharad Pawar during an election rally for his party candidate Vasant Davkhare and Sanjiv Naik in Thane on Sunday.
NCP leader Sharad Pawar during an election rally for his party candidate Vasant Davkhare and Sanjiv Naik in Thane on Sunday. — PTI
Children with posters take part in a rally against cutting of trees in Lal Bagh Garden due to Metro work in Bangalore on Sunday. A Metro train station is proposed at Lal Bagh.
MAKING A POINT: Children with posters take part in a rally against cutting of trees in Lal Bagh Garden due to Metro work in Bangalore on Sunday. A Metro train station is proposed at Lal Bagh. — PTI

Modi downplays PM chorus
Ahmedabad, April 26
As the chorus from within BJP for Narendra Modi as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate grew loud, the Gujarat Chief Minister himself downplayed the talk saying Advani will be the party's PM candidate even for the 2014 elections.

Clean Chit To Tytler
CBI chief overruled top officers?
New Delhi, April 26
Did CBI Director Ashwani Kumar override the opinion of senior officers on the issue of a clean chit to Congress leader Jagdish Tytler in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case? It appears so, as the Joint Director and a DIG of the agency recommended that there was a strong case of murder, rioting and damage to property against the leader in the Bara Hindu Rao riots where a number of Sikhs were allegedly killed by a mob incited by Tytler.

Elections done, AP poll stars head for vacation
Hyderabad, April 26
After weeks of gruelling electioneering, the star campaigners of various political parties in Andhra Pradesh are planning to take a hard-earned break and fly to cooler climes along with their family members.

EC to conduct aerial survey of sensitive areas
Jaipur, April 26
In an unprecedented move, the Election Commission has decided to use helicopters to keep a watch on sensitive parliamentary constituencies on May 7, the day Rajasthan goes to polls.

Advani may be on sticky wicket this time
Gandhinagar, April 26
In 2004, BJP leader LK Advani won by a convincing margin of 2.17 lakh votes, the largest by any candidate in this state. But five years later, supporters of the BJP’s octogenarian prime ministerial candidate seem to be scraping the basket for every vote they can get in this 15.43 lakh strong constituency that has shrunk in size post-delimitation. Four days before polling, this five-time MP may be seeing his most serious electoral battle yet.

Only Cong can fight terror: Sonia
Mumbai, April 26
Addressing election rallies here, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said only her party can fight terrorism in the country. “Terrorism is raising its ugly head in the neighborhood and we have to be vigilant. Only the Congress has the capacity to fight terrorism,” Sonia said here today.

BJP not for Tamil Eelam in Lanka
Bangalore, April 26
The BJP today said it did not support the demand for a separate Tamil state to be carved out from Sri Lanka, but asserted that India should exercise the option of imposing sanctions on Colombo and recall its High Commissioner if the killing of innocent Tamils was not stopped.

Refugees seek India’s help
Rameswaram, April 26
The Indian government should help Sri Lankan Tamils come to India as the situation in war-torn Mullaithivu in the island nation was “worse than hell”, where people did not even have basic facilities, said some of the refugees who arrived at Mandapam refugee camp here.

BJP targets Manmohan again
Mumbai, April 26
After keeping quiet for several days, the BJP has again targetted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for ‘lacking leadership qualities’.

Cong takes credit for N-tests during BJP’s tenure
New Delhi, April 26
Midway through the general election, the Congress on Friday dug into the past and released the party’s list of achievements dating back to 1972, while also taking the credit for successfully executing not just Pokhran-I but also Pokhran-II - the nuclear tests conducted by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government in 1998.

Deve Gowda frowns on too many cooks
Hassan, April 26
Too many Third Front leaders were interested in the job and, therefore, he would not like to project himself as the Prime Ministerial candidate of the Third Front, declared Janata Dal(Secular) chief and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda here today.

Porbandar man, a witness to history
He is the only living resident of Mahatma Gandhi’s birthplace who has seen the Father of the Nation. The year was 1928 and Dinkarrai Vaishnav, who was born in 1914 at the start of World War I, was then just 14.

Tampering of Anil Ambani’s Aircraft
Maintenance firms told to tighten security
Mumbai, April 26
The Mumbai police has asked private aircraft companies to tighten security at hangars leased by them at the Mumbai airport after stones and mud were found dumped in the fuel tank of industrialist Anil Ambani’s helicopter.

Rubina’s father not guilty, says Mumbai police
Mumbai, April 26
Rafique Qureshi, father of 'Slumdog Millionaire' child star Rubina Ali, is not guilty of trying to sell his daughter, as the inquiry has found him innocent, the police said today.

Stateless on Brahmaputra banks
Mangaldoi (Assam), April 26
About 206 inmates of ‘suspect’ nationality are living in make-shift refugee camps comprising dirty sheds covered by polythene sheets, along the national highway at Burigaon near here. They are only a few of a large number of illegal immigrants on the banks of the Brahmaputra in Assam.





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Politico-militant nexus again to fore in Assam
BPF leader says he paid ultras for peace during 2004 polls
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, April 26
The alleged nexus between politicos and militant groups in Assam has once again come to the fore with a Bodo People’s Front (BPF) leader claiming to have bought peace during the 2004 Parliamentary polls by paying money to ultras.

Disclosing this before two local TV channels, Hagrama Mohilary, a BPF leader and chief executive member of Bodoland Territorial Autonomous District Council (BTADC), said he paid money to the banned National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB).

Accusing the NDFB of making an attempt on the life of SK Bwismutiary, BPF candidate for Kokrajhar constituency, last Friday, Mohilary said the NDFB had taken money from Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) to help some of its poll candidates as well as the AUDF-supported UG Brahma of Bodoland People’s Progressive Front (BPPF) in Kokrajhar constituency during the just concluded election. Brahma, however, has denied the allegation.

Mohilary alleged that the banned NDFB also took money from two BJP and one Congress candidate. “I know such character of the NDFB. We (BPF) also paid money to NDFB during 2004 Parliamentary election. The NDFB is now only after money. The outfit is left with no ideology or revolutionary spirit,” Mohilary said.

The revelation has stirred the hornet’s nest in the post-election scenario in the state. The faction of the NDFB that is now in truce has demanded that legal proceedings be drawn against Mohilary for making disclosure about paying money to the NDFB during 2004 polls. The pro-talks faction spokesman, B Sanjarang, also denied involvement of the outfit in last Friday’s attack on the BPF candidate.

Meanwhile, the BJP candidate for Guwahati Parliamentary constituency, Bijoya Chakraborty, whose name was been dragged into “payment to militants” controversy by the BPF leader, said, “There is no truth in what Hagrama Mohilary has said. A person who himself has admitted to have paid money to NDFB during 2004 election shouldn’t try to malign others. The BJP’s firm stand against insurgency is known to all.”

The ruling Congress, which has the BPF as its ally in the state as well as the AUDF, have remained tight lipped over the allegation made by Mohilary.

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Priyanka’s security breached

Lucknow, April 26
The Congress party’s star campaigner Priyanka Gandhi’s security cordon was broken twice today when she was electioneering for her mother Sonia Gandhi in Uttar Pradesh’s Rae Bareli constituency.

While the police say there was “nothing incriminating”, the attempts to breach the heavy security have sent top administration of the state in a tizzy. According to the police, a middle-aged man wearing a police uniform tried to get close to the Congress president’s daughter. But he was arrested.

“The man in a home guard’s uniform, who broke the security cordon, was found to be mentally unwell and had lost his job on that account,” Brij Lal, additional director general of police (law and order), told here.

In the second instance, a truck was seized and its driver arrested when he pushed the vehicle into Priyanka’s convoy, a fleet protected by the Special Protection Group (SPG). The incident occurred in Raniganj village in Rae Bareli district.

“The truck bears Maharashtra registration number,” said a police official, who also confirmed that “nothing incriminating was found in the preliminary search of the truck. But we are questioning the driver because he really went out of the way to break into the fleet”. Lal said, “Our people are on the job to investigate how such a thing could have happened.” — IANS

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TRS keeps post-poll options open
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, April 26
Indicating a possible re-alignment of political forces after elections, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) has said it was willing to join hands with any party or coalition that supported Telangana statehood cause.

“We are flexible. We will support any party that guarantees statehood for Telangana region,” the TRS founder-president K Chandrasekhar Rao said.

The TRS fought the just-concluded elections in Andhra Pradesh in alliance with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Left parties. However, in the midst of predictions of split verdict for Parliament and the state assembly, the TRS appears to be keeping its options open on its future course.

Rao, whose party was a UPA ally and member of the central cabinet before quitting the Congress-led alliance in 2006 on Telangana issue, also indicated that his party would not hesitate to support the NDA if the latter gave a firm assurance on creation of Telangana state.

The TRS chief left for New Delhi today to mount pressure on various political formations on Telangana issue. “I will meet both Sonia Gandhi and L K Advani regarding Telangana,” he said.

The TRS is hopeful of playing a key role at the Centre and in the state after the elections. It contested nine out of 17 Lok Sabha seats and 45 out of 119 Assembly seats in Telangana region.

Aided by a strong undercurrent of statehood sentiment in the region and the combined opposition strength, the Telangana party is expected to put up a good performance.

By indicating readiness for a post-poll alliance with any formation to achieve a separate state, Rao is sending a strong message to the alliance partner TDP. He wants the TDP to initiate steps for creation of separate state soon after coming to power.

Rao said, “The first session of the state assembly will have to pass a resolution on Telangana.”

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Modi downplays PM chorus

Ahmedabad, April 26
As the chorus from within BJP for Narendra Modi as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate grew loud, the Gujarat Chief Minister himself downplayed the talk saying Advani will be the party's PM candidate even for the 2014 elections.

“Advaniji will be our prime ministerial candidate even in 2014 elections,” the 58-year-old Hindutva posterboy said in an interview when asked whether he would be the next in line from the BJP to make a bid for the top post after Advani.

Modi’s comments came close on the heels of remarks by senior BJP leaders Arun Shourie, Arun Jaitley and Venkaiah Naidu that they would be happy to see him as the PM candidate even though they made it clear that Advani would be the party’s prime ministerial candidate for the current poll.

Asked if he would be playing a role in national politics, Modi said, “the people of Gujarat have given me responsibility to be the Chief Minister. I have done nothing wrong that they should throw me out of state”.

On whether the BJP’s strategy to attack Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by calling him “weak” had backfired, Modi shot back saying, “The question here is not of attack on the Prime Minister, the question is of devaluation of the Prime Minister’s office”.

Taking a swipe at Singh, Modi asked whether the country wanted a Prime Minister who was nominated and “dependent on a family” or an elected one.

Anwsering a range of questions, Modi said the Third Front would exist till the day of voting and would cease to exist before the day of counting of votes. He parried questions on Priyanka and Rahul Gandhi. — PTI

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Clean Chit To Tytler
CBI chief overruled top officers?

New Delhi, April 26
Did CBI Director Ashwani Kumar override the opinion of senior officers on the issue of a clean chit to Congress leader Jagdish Tytler in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case? It appears so, as the Joint Director and a DIG of the agency recommended that there was a strong case of murder, rioting and damage to property against the leader in the Bara Hindu Rao riots where a number of Sikhs were allegedly killed by a mob incited by Tytler.

The views of the two officers was sent to Director (Prosecution) SK Sharma who opined that the witnesses were changing their statements and the evidence against the leader was weak.

Sticking to the opinion given by Sharma, the CBI director overruled the view of his own officers and approved Sharma’s opinion that a closure report should be filed in the case before the court.

Repeated attempts to contact the CBI Director on the issue did not succeed while the CBI spokesman Harsh Bahal said, “The model code of conduct is in force and it is not proper to make any comment on a politically sensitive case.”

The CBI had informed the court of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate that the agency wanted to file a cancellation report in the matter to close the investigation. — PTI

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Elections done, AP poll stars head for vacation
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, April 26
After weeks of gruelling electioneering, the star campaigners of various political parties in Andhra Pradesh are planning to take a hard-earned break and fly to cooler climes along with their family members.

The Chief Minister, YS Rajasekhara Reddy, the star campaigner for Congress who covered 170 Assembly segments during a non-stop 28-day electioneering, would fly off to Shimla on April 29 for a six-day holiday.

Reddy, who is now in New Delhi to brief the party leadership about the polling trends, would be joined by his family members. After spending six days at the hill station, Reddy would return to the city on May 5.

The Telugu Desam Party president, N Chandrababu Naidu, is likely to fly abroad in the first week of May. He had campaigned for 10 hours a day for almost a month. He is planning to spend a week in a foreign tourist spot along with his family members.

The actor-turned-politician and Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) president Chiranjeevi is leaving for United States with his family members on April 28 and is expected to return to the city on May 7.

The two-phase simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and state Assembly were held on April 16 and 23 and the candidates would have to wait till May 16 for the results.

With pollsters predicting a hung Assembly, the three-week long wait looks like eternity for the major contenders for power. The unwinding trips would help the who’s who of the state politics escape from the tension and anxiety over poll prospects.

Flying to cooler climes

YS RAJASEKHARA REDDY: Chief Minister and the star campaigner for Congress will fly off to Shimla on April 29

N CHANDRABABU NAIDU: Telugu Desam Party president is likely to fly abroad in the first week of May

CHIRANJEEVI: Praja Rajyam Party president is leaving for United States on April 28

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EC to conduct aerial survey of sensitive areas
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, April 26
In an unprecedented move, the Election Commission has decided to use helicopters to keep a watch on sensitive parliamentary constituencies on May 7, the day Rajasthan goes to polls.

Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla stated this after reviewing poll preparedness in the state here last night. He said the EC had decided to deploy two MI-17 helicopters carrying Rapid Action Force Personnel to conduct aerial survey of sensitive areas and reach any troubled spot in the minimum possible time.

The commission has identified eight districts, which form six Lok Sabha seats, as sensitive for the coming elections. These LS segments include Dausa, Karauli-Dhaulpur, Tonk-Sawai Madhopur, Bharatpur, parts of Alwar and Jaipur (Rural).

However, the EC decision has not come as a surprise in view of the recent alert sounded by the state intelligence department about possible clashes in at least 10 districts of the state. There are apprehensions that the rivalry between Meena and Gujjar communities may take an ugly turn. Among the districts that figure in the department’s list Tonk-Sawai Madhopur tops the list, as Union Minister Namo Narayan Meena of the Congress is contesting against a Gujjar, Kirori Singh Bainsla of the BJP.

While Meenas are backing Namo Narayan to the hilt, Gujjars and other communities have thrown their weight behind Bainsla, thus increasing the possibility of poll violence. Bainsla had spearheaded violent Gujjar agitations, seeking ST status for the community, in 2007-08.

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Advani may be on sticky wicket this time
Dinesh Kumar

Gandhinagar, April 26
In 2004, BJP leader LK Advani won by a convincing margin of 2.17 lakh votes, the largest by any candidate in this state. But five years later, supporters of the BJP’s octogenarian prime ministerial candidate seem to be scraping the basket for every vote they can get in this 15.43 lakh strong constituency that has shrunk in size post-delimitation. Four days before polling, this five-time MP may be seeing his most serious electoral battle yet.

Advani is besieged by a wide range of problems. His major challenge comes from the very Patel community that has earlier supported Narendra Modi in this state. The Patels, who form this constituency’s single largest voter group at 15 per cent, are being aggressively wooed by his Congress opponent, a Patel, who has reportedly roped in about 200 non-resident Indians, most of them from the US. This NRI-campaign is being led by Congress candidate Suresh Patel’s brother, who lives in the US.

Despite putting up a brave face in public, the BJP camp is not taking any chances. Modi has deputed two of his cabinet colleagues-both Patels, to focus entirely around Kalol, Gujarat ’s red chilli town that falls in this constituency with a high concentration of Patels. They have been asked to individually contact community leaders.

In addition, Advani’s wife, daughter and son have been camping here. But so far the Patel community does not seem to be relenting. They suspect a deeper conspiracy. For one, the Patidar (Patel) Samaj suspects that the BJP is banking on the OBCs (Modi is an OBC) and trying to cut the traditionally powerful Patels down to size. Second, they suspect that Modi’s BJP is trying to create a wedge between the two Patel sub-groups - Kadva and Leuva. On the other hand, Suresh Patel has been focusing on consolidating the Patel vote with a ‘Patel for Patel’ campaign.

Advani’s next serious worry is the 1.4 lakh Vishwakarma community comprising carpenters, masons and other craftsmen. The reason is the mysterious death of two cousins belonging to this community, who had gone missing from Asaram’s Gurukul and were later found dead on the banks of the Sabarmati river here last year. Akin to the Modi masks that were distributed just before the 2007 assembly elections in the state, about 10,000 highly suggestive masks split in half with Advani’s face on one side and Asaram on the other are being distributed in parts of the constituency. Advani is known to be a follower of Asaram and these masks are being specially distributed amongst women to appeal to their emotional quotient.

On Friday night, the community organised a well-attended meeting under the Vishwakarma Aakrosh Sammelan in which several questions were raised and criticisms expressed against Advani.

The meeting was attended by the fathers of the dead boy - Shantilal and Praful Waghela, who are understandably upset that the police has still not solved the crime even as their petition for a narco-analysis on the sadhaks at the ashram remains stuck in the Gujarat High Court.

Sensing possible support from the Vishwakarma community, Suresh Patel has promised to get a CBI enquiry ordered should he be elected.

Somewhere in Advani’s path is also danseuse Mallika Sarabhai, who, with her dance and music campaign, may end up encroaching into both Advani and Patel’s vote bank. Both the Congress and the BJP are otherwise dismissive of her.

One other emotional issue on which people are raising questions is about Advani laying a ‘chaddar’ on Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s grave during his visit to Pakistan some years ago. “Why did Advani need to place a ‘chaddar’ on Jinnah’s grave?” asked a university student who did not want to be named.

With doubts and misgivings being voiced and the Patels and the Vishwakarmas lukewarm or antagonistic, the contest here suddenly seems to be wide open.

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Only Cong can fight terror: Sonia
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, April 26
Addressing election rallies here, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said only her party can fight terrorism in the country. “Terrorism is raising its ugly head in the neighborhood and we have to be vigilant. Only the Congress has the capacity to fight terrorism,” Sonia said here today.

With Mumbai and neighboring Thane scheduled to vote on April 30,electioneering peaked today with leaders of all major parties addressing huge rallies here. Mumbai and Thane have a total of 10 Lok Sabha seats.

She reminded her audience that the BJP-Sena government in Maharashtra between 1994 and 1999 were the dark ages. “People should remember that every body has equal rights in India whether they are locals or

migrants. There should not be any division on the basis of caste, creed or religion,” Gandhi said.

Targetting the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, Gandhi said people need not be afraid of their lives in a Congress-ruled government . The party had mobilised large gathering of North Indians at these rallies.

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BJP not for Tamil Eelam in Lanka

Bangalore, April 26
The BJP today said it did not support the demand for a separate Tamil state to be carved out from Sri Lanka, but asserted that India should exercise the option of imposing sanctions on Colombo and recall its High Commissioner if the killing of innocent Tamils was not stopped.

“We are not in favour of a separate nation created out of Sri Lanka, but totally against butchering of Tamil civilians. They have to be protected. The party is for giving rights to Northern Tamils within the integrity and and territorial unity of Sri Lanka”, BJP leader Yashwant Sinha told reporters here.

“The time has come, India must make its intentions very clear to Sri Lanka. With diplomatic channels and a high-power delegation not working, the only option left is imposing sanctions on Sri Lanka if it goes ahead and disregards Indian advice”, Sinha, who is here to campaign for the party, said.

His comments came in the backdrop of assertion by AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa last night that her party would press for formation of a separate Tamil Eelam if voted to power.

Sinha said it was for the Government of India to decide on the kind of sanctions and whether they should be economic or otherwise and what part of it should be economic.

He said that the BJP had no sympathy for LTTE chief Prabhakaran, a “proclaimed offender” nor for the LTTE, a “terrorist organisation”. — PTI

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Refugees seek India’s help

Alert in Tamil Nadu

New Delhi: Amid strife in neighbouring Sri Lanka, central security agencies have sounded an alert in Tamil Nadu following intelligence inputs suggesting that cadre of the banned LTTE, some of them may be suicide bombers, may slip into the country disguised as refugees. The alert has been sounded in neighbouring Kerala and coastal Andhra Pradesh as well to keep a watch on the movement along the coastal lines as the LTTE cadres, facing the wrath of the Sri Lankan army, may try and infiltrate as refugees, official sources said.

Rameswaram, April 26
The Indian government should help Sri Lankan Tamils come to India as the situation in war-torn Mullaithivu in the island nation was “worse than hell”, where people did not even have basic facilities, said some of the refugees who arrived at Mandapam refugee camp here.

“See how frail and unhealthy they are”, Mathivannan, who arrived here last week along with some refugees, said pointing at them.

“We have paid our entire life savings to come to India.The condition of our relatives in Sri Lanka is very bad. They have no chance of coming to India as they do not have anything to sell. Either they have to survive there or die,” he said.

Andrews, another refugee, said the whole of Sri Lanka was under the control of its Army and there were checkposts everywhere. “One may be killed by the Army men at the checkposts even if they have the slightest doubt,” he said.

The Indian government should take steps to rehabilitate the injured in view of poor medical facilities and lack of specialised doctors in Sri Lanka. Though India had sent a team of doctors to the island nation, it was doubtful whether they would be able to attend to all the injured, he said.

Kanta Roopan, a refugee, said the main reason for the LTTE to lose the war was that they had lost some of their best advisers, including Balasingam, Kittu and Karuna. Karuna left the LTTE and recently became a minister in the Sri Lankan government. — PTI

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BJP targets Manmohan again
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, April 26
After keeping quiet for several days, the BJP has again targetted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for ‘lacking leadership qualities’.

This time it was the turn of BJP leader Arun Jaitley to trained his guns on Manmohan Singh. Jaitley said, Manmohan should leave politics and choose some other profession because he lacked leadership skills and was also a poor public speaker. Speaking at a function organised by the friends of the BJP, Jaitley accused Singh of not being able to match up to BJP prime ministerial candidate LK Advani in public speaking because of which the Congress turned down a proposal for a public debate between the two leaders.

In his hard-hitting speech, Jaitley said Manmohan had failed as a Prime Minister. “No decisions were taken by the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his term,” Jaitley said. “He did not want to hurt his votebank by taking any decision...his is a weak leadership,” Jaitley said. Further the BJP leader added that Singh did not even contest elections. The Prime Minister is a Member of the Rajya Sabha.

Jaitley also sought to play the Hindutva card by saying the Congress was soft on terror as part of its strategy to “protect its votebank”. Calling for tough laws like TADA and POTA, Jaitley said 67 cities were attacked during the UPA’s rule.

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Cong takes credit for N-tests during BJP’s tenure
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 26
Midway through the general election, the Congress on Friday dug into the past and released the party’s list of achievements dating back to 1972, while also taking the credit for successfully executing not just Pokhran-I but also Pokhran-II - the nuclear tests conducted by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government in 1998.

The party gave itself a pat for former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi giving “authorisation to scientists at the Bhaba Atomic Reaserch Centre (BARC) to detonate an indigenously designed nuclear device” in 1972 and accused the BJP of “falsely projecting” the nuclear tests conducted in 1998 as its achievements.

“Even LK Advani acknowledged that the NDA government just culminated Pokhran-II started by Indira Gandhi. It was Congress’ vision and implementation that made India a nuclear power, and which was later ‘falsely’ projected as the NDA’s achievements with Pokhran 2. The BJP could have done nothing in a few weeks in 1998 unless everything was made ready by the Congress earlier,” Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said.

Calling this another one of the BJP’s “attempts to associate with the Congress’ achievements”, Singhvi said the party’s prime ministerial candidate LK Advani had “now made a laughing stock of his party and himself by agreeing to honour the 123 agreement with the US after sulking and attacking the Congress for bartering away the country lock stock barrel”.

In this BJP-bashing exercise, Singhvi enlisted achievements of the party in the past 35 years, including the financial success of Indian Railways and successful implementation of the government’s flagship program NREGA.

He, however, refused to see any reason in the argument that individual contributions by RJD ministers in the UPA government - Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav and Rural Development Minister Raguvansh Prasad - may also have been responsible for these success stories.

“These are the Congress’ achievements… these are the achievement of the Congress-led UPA government. Does one person run a department? he questioned, stressing that government schemes were based on decisions made by the Cabinet.

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Deve Gowda frowns on too many cooks
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Hassan, April 26
Too many Third Front leaders were interested in the job and, therefore, he would not like to project himself as the Prime Ministerial candidate of the Third Front, declared Janata Dal(Secular) chief and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda here today.

“Jayalalithaa, Mayawati, CPM” were all interested in becoming the Prime Minister, he said at an election rally. It would be better to leave it to the MPs to choose the Prime Minister, Gowda added. The JD(S) leader, campaigning in his constituency Hassan, however maintained that the “third alternative” is going to be a reality.

“Even if we get 10 to 12 MPs, we can have our own Prime Minister, whoever may the person be, to fulfil the wishes of poor people. I am not interested in becoming the Prime Minister. All I want is to wipe off your tears. I also want to waive the loans taken by farmers from financial institutions”, the former Prime Minister told the crowd consisting of primarily farmers.

While the JD (S) supremo had lost the election in Hassan once, he won back the seat again in 2004 by a thumping margin (over 1.90 lakh). He is still immensely popular in his home constituency. Wherever he stopped he was given a rousing reception, while people jostled with each other to get closer to him.

Like Gowda the Congress and the BJP candidates in Hassan are also from Vokkaliga. Gowda undoubtedly is the front runner in the constituency where polling is slated to take place on April 30. Gowda’s son H D Revanna, an MLA from Hassan district, is in charge of his campaign.

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Porbandar man, a witness to history
Dinesh Kumar writes from Porbandar

He is the only living resident of Mahatma Gandhi’s birthplace who has seen the Father of the Nation. The year was 1928 and Dinkarrai Vaishnav, who was born in 1914 at the start of World War I, was then just 14.

“He was addressing a rally. I saw him from a distance of 30 to 40 feet. I was too young to remember what he said, but I remember the way he walked and talked. I particularly remember the colour of his skin. It had a reddish glow”, says the nonagenarian who will turn 95 later this year.

Vaishnav, who votes regularly in every election, is disappointed at the decay in politics in the country. “There are times when I feel that the British were better”, remarks Vaishnav, who took part in Gandhi’s Swadeshi and Non-cooperation movement against the British. “He taught us ahimsa and I remember how we heeded to his call to wear khadi and to shun foreign-made cloth”, he recalls with pride.

Vaishnav keeps good health and looks much younger than his age. He shakes his head in disappointment at the corruption and criminalisation of Indian politics. “There has been a complete metamorphosis in politics in the country. Ask anyone in our country and they will express their disappointment with the state of governance”, he says adding, “Our politicians are self-seekers.”

“Our lives are not safe. The law and order situation has gone to the dogs,” he says. The deterioration, he feels, began after Nehru’s death. Lal Bahadur Shastri, he says, was sincere but his tenure was short lived. The only post-Nehru Prime Minister for whom Vaishnav voluntarily expresses praise is Atal Behari Vajpayee. What about Narendra Modi? “He is a good man but has not been able to give good governance”, he says. He disagrees with the popular perception that Modi’s tenure has witnessed considerable development in the state. What about Sonia Gandhi? Vaishnav laughs and waves his hand dismissively. But he feels that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is “alright”.

The grand old man of Porbandar who retired as an English teacher in a government school in 1972, later worked in the local gurukul for a further 20 years before finally retiring in 1993. He is the trustee of a local school, a city library and also a khadi emporium. He recalls with pride his experience of teaching Gujarati to the Sri Lankan-origin British-educated queen of Porbandar. Vaishnav, who lives with his youngest son, does not know how to use a cell phone or the Internet. He does not feel the need. He is happy with his walks, prayers and yoga. He visits the Ramakrishna Mission every evening and enjoys meeting his friends, all of whom are understandably younger than he is.

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Tampering of Anil Ambani’s Aircraft
Maintenance firms told to tighten security
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, April 26
The Mumbai police has asked private aircraft companies to tighten security at hangars leased by them at the Mumbai airport after stones and mud were found dumped in the fuel tank of industrialist Anil Ambani’s helicopter.

According to Deputy Commissioner of Police Nishar Tamboli, the police are working with airport officials and the MRO companies in overhauling security at the hangars where such aircraft are parked.

“We have asked the companies and airport officials to enhance security and install close circuit television cameras,” Tamboli said.

Police officials say, the incident set off alarm bells in the corridors of power since aircraft belonging to all the top companies like Videocon, Vijay Mallya’s United Spirits, the Jindals, etc make halts or have hangars at the Mumbai airport. “Politicians cutting across party lines hire these aircraft on a regular basis and these are now in demand because of the elections,” said a well placed source.

Apart from the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition in the outgoing Lok Sabha

L K Advani, NCP leader Sharad Pawar and other senior politicians regularly hire aircraft from the private companies.

Following the incident, Air Works India, the Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) company in charge of Ambani’s aircraft has undertaken emergency inspections of several aircraft belonging to various industrialists.

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Rubina’s father not guilty, says Mumbai police

Mumbai, April 26
Rafique Qureshi, father of 'Slumdog Millionaire' child star Rubina Ali, is not guilty of trying to sell his daughter, as the inquiry has found him innocent, the police said today.

"The inquiry has concluded and he is found not guilty, as there is no exchange of money in it," senior police inspector Rahim Shaikh told PTI here.

"He did not try to sell his daughter. It was true that he had gone to meet some people in a hotel in suburban Andheri, where they told Qureshi that they want to adopt Rubina. But Qureshi told them that he can take care of his daughter," he said.

Rafique was accused of allegedly trying to sell Rubina to a Saudi Sheikh for Rs 1.8 crore, as it was revealed in a sting operation carried out by a British tabloid last week.

The reporters of the tabloid had posed as the members of the wealthy Sheikh's family from Saudi Arabia and had offered to adopt the girl, when Qureshi allegedly demanded the princely sum.

Police had launched an inquiry after the media reports.

Meanwhile, Oscar nominated director Shekhar Kapur has condemned the sting-operation conducted by a UK newspaper, which claimed that Rubina’s father tried to sell her for Ł200,000.

"I was aghast at the sting-operation done by that British tabloid, which instead of being condemned worldwide is being heralded as a great piece of journalism," wrote Kapur on his blog.

The director, who recently worked with Rubina for an advertising film, also featuring Hollywood actress Nicole Kidman and actor Arjun Rampal, accused the 'News of the World' for having a "colonial point of view".

The 'Elizabeth' director went on to say that instead of Rubina's father Rafiq Qureshi, the reporters who posed as the agents of a wealthy Arab sheikh should have been arrested for luring the poor man. — PTI

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Stateless on Brahmaputra banks
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Mangaldoi (Assam), April 26
About 206 inmates of ‘suspect’ nationality are living in make-shift refugee camps comprising dirty sheds covered by polythene sheets, along the national highway at Burigaon near here. They are only a few of a large number of illegal immigrants on the banks of the Brahmaputra in Assam.

The issue of illegal migration from Bangladesh continues to hog headlines in Assam during every election since the 1980s. These people had fled the neighbouring Udalguri district during violent clashes between Bodo tribals and immigrant Muslims in the first week of October last year. Initially, they were housed in a government-run riot refugee camp at Burigaon madrassa along with 6000 other riot-hit inmates. During the process of rehabilitation, 1040 riot-hit persons failed to prove their Indian nationality through submission of valid papers, including land documents.

They were then segregated into two camps at Burigaon and Mousitha in Darrang district even as the police have started investigations to find out whether they were Indian nationals or not.

“There were a total of 1040 people as on March 15 at Mousitha and Burigaon camps, some of those have now gone to collect documents to prove their citizenship. The police have put them under surveillance. These people’s nationality is seriously suspect as they have failed to produce any document to prove their nationality though they had been given ample time,” Deputy Commissioner of Darrang district Dhruba Hazarika said.

About 1900 more such riot-displaced people were lodged in some camps in the neighbouring Udalguri district as the administration can’t rehabilitate them in the absence of any document confirming their Indian nationality, according to an official source.

“We are living a dog’s life here. The administration has stopped providing relief material. There is no drinking water or sanitation facilities in the camp”, said 25-year-old Farooq Hussain who is lodged in the camp at Burigaon with his wife and the child.

Farooq was working as a manual labourer in the coal fields of Jaintia Hills in Meghalaya from where he rushed back to rescue his riot-hit family at Rowta. “My name is not in the electoral rolls, so, I and my family have been kept in this camp which was facilitated by Ilius Ali, MLA of Dalgaon Assembly constituency after the government-run relief camp was dismantled. The MLA hasn’t called on us since then,” he said.

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BRIEFLY

Amar Singh booked
Chhatarpur:
Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh has been booked here for violating the model code of conduct for elections by allegedly seeking votes on caste lines. “We have booked Singh under Section 123(3) of the Representation of the People Act 1951 last night for seeking votes on caste lines,” Chhatarpur SP Sriniwas Verma said on Sunday. He said it is a bailable offence, but if the charges against a person are proved , he may be sentenced to three-year imprisonment. The senior SP leader had yesterday allegedly asked his community members (Thakurs) to vote for his party and accused the Congress of disrespecting the community while addressing an election meeting in the Nagaon area. — PTI

No newspapers for Kasab
MUMBAI:
A special court has rejected the plea of Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone gunman arrested for the Mumbai terror attacks, to have access to newspapers in jail but allowed his lawyer to lend him some books for reading. “I informed the court that Kasab wanted to read newspapers in jail but the plea was not considered. Instead the court suggested that I could lend some story books to him,” Kasab’s lawyer Abbas Kazmi said. — PTI

N-Rly digital enquiry
NEW DELHI:
In an effort to facilitate prompt replies to public queries, the Northern Railway has introduced a digital enquiry system at railway stations here. “The new Video Conference-based Enquiry System has been introduced at New Delhi and Old Delhi stations on a trial basis,” Divisional Railway Manager BD Garg said. The new system includes an LCD screen, a mike, a hotline, a monitoring machine, a camera and few other equipments and is operated by a person sitting at a distance. — PTI

Social service for accused
NEW DELHI:
Six people, accused of causing injury to their neighbour over some financial matters, have been asked by the Delhi High Court to carry out community service at a temple for two weeks. Quashing the FIR filed by Manoj Kumar after both the complainant and the accused agreed to settle the matter amicably, Justice GS Sistani in an order asked the accused to do the community service for one hour every day since April 24 for fifteen days at the Sai Baba temple in Lodhi Road. — PTI

Boy commits suicide
LUCKNOW:
Afraid of being scolded by parents for allegedly stealing Rs 5, a 12-year-old boy committed suicide by hanging himself in his residence at Wazirganj area here, the police said on Sunday. The incident took place on Saturday when Nai Basti resident Zahir demanded Rs 5 from his elder sister Rubina. After she refused, Zahir allegedly stole the money from the house. Rubina, who came to know about the act, threatened Zahir that she would complain to their parents about it. Afraid of being scolded, Zahir went upstairs and allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself, they said. — PTI

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