SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE
 SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Centre plans anti-ragging legislation
President to write to Governors
New Delhi, May 3
President Pratibha Patil will write to all Governors, who are also the Chancellors of their respective state universities, asking them to allow a group of activists to sensitise students about ragging even as the Centre plans to bring in a legislation to tackle the problem.

Custodial death slur on Assam Rifles
Guwahati, May 3
Death of a senior political leader in the custody of the paramilitary force has sparked fresh tension in the insurgency ravaged North Cachar Hill district in Assam.The political leader was arrested on suspicion of having links with militants.

TN ADGP warns against attacks on military
Sivaganga, May 3
Tamil Nadu police today warned of stern action against those indulging in false campaign against the Indian military, following incidents of stone-pelting on military trucks at Coimbatore yesterday.

Fresh norms to check ragging today
New Delhi, May 3
The Supreme Court is expected to come out tomorrow with a fresh set of stringent guidelines, aimed at curbing the menace of ragging on campuses which recently claimed the life of 19-year-old Aman Satya Kachroo, a first year student at the Dr Rajendra Prasad Government Medical College, Tanda.


Bollywood actress Mahima Chaudhary campaigns for Congress candidate Prabhu Dayal in Agra on Sunday.
Bollywood actress Mahima Chaudhary campaigns for Congress candidate Prabhu Dayal in Agra on Sunday. 
— PTI


EARLIER STORIES

Post-Poll Speculation
Nitish may join UPA: Sheila
BJP refutes the Cong speculation as a ‘daydream’, JD(U) too denies 
New Delhi, April 3
A day after JD(U) president Sharad Yadav backed BJP leader LK Advani as NDA’s prime ministerial candidate, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit today set rife speculations about the future political course of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, an important ally of NDA, by hinting that he may join the UPA after elections.

Manmohan Singh is our choice for PM: Rahul
Barmer, May 3
Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi today said Manmohan Singh was UPA’s and Congress’ candidate for the post of Prime Minister, reaffirming the stand of the party leaders that there was no vacancy for the top job.

Candidates sweat it out as poll pitch touches peak
Jaipur, May 3
With the mercury soaring as high as 47 °C in some areas of the state, the politicians here are finding it tough to maintain the tempo of their poll campaign in the remaining few days ahead of the polling on May 7.

No easy going for Raje’s son Dushyant this time
New Delhi, May 3
Donning a spotless white ‘kurta pyjama’, a traditional Rajasthani turban and his wife Niharika Kumari in toe, Jhalawar MP Dushyant Singh, son of former (Rajasthan) Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and the scion of Dholpur royal family, has been toiling hard to seek votes in the dust and heat of far-flung villages under his constituency.

Demand for Cong-NCP split in M’rashtra grows
Mumbai, May 3
The Lok Sabha election results may be a fortnight away, but the Congress in Maharashtra is accusing the Nationalist Congress Party and its leader Sharad Pawar of betraying it. Of the 26 Lok Sabha seats it contested in Maharashtra, Congress party leaders are sure that Pawar's lieutenants worked against its candidates in at least a dozen.

BJP leader LK Advani consoles his sister Sheela Bavnani, whose husband died on Saturday, in Mumbai on Sunday.
BJP leader LK Advani consoles his sister Sheela Bavnani, whose husband died on Saturday, in Mumbai on Sunday. PTI

Kalyan Issue
Lalu, Paswan, SP pact may take a beating
Lucknow, May 3
Even before the so-called fourth front could play its intended role as a kingmaker, the basic ideological differences are publicly cropping up vis-à-vis former Chief Minister Kalyan Singh’s relationship with the alliance partners- The Samajwadi Party and the Lok Janshakti Party- virtually threatening this fragile formulation.

A major coup
After Uma, Singhal, BJP ropes in Shekhawat
New Delhi, May 3
The BJP has pulled all stops to ensure its victory in the current round of elections. First it had welcomed Uma Bharti back as the campaigner for the party and now it has managed to persuade former Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat to issue an appeal for the party and its prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani.

Shoe Missile
Rajasthan on alert as stars descend
Jaipur, May 3
With the third phase of polling having ended, the focus of most of our national-level leaders or “stars” as they are called has now shifted to the constituencies that would go to polls in the fourth round of elections due on May 7 and that would include all the 25 Parliamentary seats in this princely state of Rajasthan.

CPM workers participate in an election rally in Kolkata on Sunday.
CPM workers participate in an election rally in Kolkata on Sunday. — PTI

Decide on Guru’s mercy plea, Delhi told
New Delhi, May 3
Delhi government is likely to convey after the Lok Sabha polls its decision to the Centre on a mercy petition seeking commutation of death sentence of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru following a missive from the Union Home Ministry.



No swine flu case in India
New Delhi, May 3
The Health Ministry today said no case of swine flu had been reported in India and clinical samples of suspected flu cases tested so far had proved negative. Health authorities in the Capital also confirmed that none of the six suspected cases of swine flu here had tested positive for the infection. A ministry official said: “As of now, no case has been reported in India. The clinical samples tested so far have been negative for Influenza A (H1N1) and the situation is being monitored.

No Tamiflu sale here, but can be exported
New Delhi, May 3
In an irony of sorts, though the Government has banned procurement and sale of Tamiflu, the wonder drug for the deadly H1N1 virus, by private companies within the country, manufacturers are allowed to export the medicine.

A villager holds an umbrella as he tries to protect himself from heat wave about 10 km from Bhubaneswar on Sunday.
A villager holds an umbrella as he tries to protect himself from heat wave about 10 km from Bhubaneswar on Sunday. — PTI

H1N1 flu: A deadly cocktail of viruses
New Delhi, May 3
The much-dreaded H1N1 flu which is spreading fear across the globe is actually a deadly cocktail of three viruses namely Avian flu, human flu and swine flu making difficult to contain it.

Water Crisis In Ranchi
Braving heat,  Dhoni Sr repairs hand pumps
Ranchi, May 3
Narendra Dhoni, elder brother of Indian cricket skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, is busy repairing hand pumps here this summer to help people overcome the prevailing water crisis.

Make law on rape more stringent: HC
New Delhi, May 3
Concerned with the lesser sentences given to culprits committing sexual assault of different forms due to absence of a stricter law, Delhi High Court has asked the Centre to consider the Law Commission report and include "digital rape" while widening the definition of rape.

Heat wave delays tiger relocation to Sariska
New Delhi, May 3
Unrelenting heat wave in North India has put a halt on Rajasthan government’s plan to relocate a tiger from Rathambore National Park to Sariska sanctuary with state officials preferring to wait till monsoon to execute the task. “There was a proposal to shift second male tiger in the beginning of this month in the park. But it is now not advisable in view of intense heat conditions in the Northern state.





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Centre plans anti-ragging legislation
President to write to Governors

New Delhi, May 3
President Pratibha Patil will write to all Governors, who are also the Chancellors of their respective state universities, asking them to allow a group of activists to sensitise students about ragging even as the Centre plans to bring in a legislation to tackle the problem.

The activists of “Aman Movement”, led by Rajendra Kachru, father of Aman Kachru who died in ragging incident, met the President and requested her to ask the Chancellors to allow them to make presentations in campuses against ragging.

“The request was instantly accepted by the President who will now write to the Governors asking them to give permission to the group to create awareness against the ragging," a Rashtrapati Bhavan official said.

Meanwhile, the government is also actively considering framing a special central legislation to effectively curb ragging menace and this was informed to the President by HRD Minister Arjun Singh, during his meeting with her on Friday.

Singh also told the President that he would convene an urgent meeting of all the regulatory bodies under the ministry to take up the issue to ensure that preventive measures were taken.

The President had recently expressed grave concern over the rising incidents of ragging in certain institutions of higher education across the country and said appropriate legislation should be enacted to tackle the menace.

Universities and colleges were centres of learning and for developing mutual respect, friendship and understanding, she said, adding that their sanctity could be vitiated year after year at the start of an academic season by those who indulge in mindless ragging.

Patil’s reaction came in the wake of death of Aman Kachru due to ragging in Himachal Pradesh in March this year.

Incidents of ragging were also reported from states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu last month.

Rajender had earlier met University Grants Commission (UGC) Chairman Prof Sukhadeo Thorat and had suggested starting a national call centre for providing assistance to students who face ragging.

Educational Consultancy India Limited (ECIL), a government undertaking, is entrusted with the task of starting such a call centre to which students can make call at the time of crisis.

Meanwhile, the UGC has prepared a regulation, which has been adopted by 17 other councils. It stipulates that students can be expelled from an institute and debarred from taking admission to any other institute after found guilty of the offence. — PTI 

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Custodial death slur on Assam Rifles
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, May 3
Death of a senior political leader in the custody of the paramilitary force has sparked fresh tension in the insurgency ravaged North Cachar Hill district in Assam.The political leader was arrested on suspicion of having links with militants.

According to official sources, Deputy Commissioner S Jagannathan has ordered a magisterial probe into the death of Liden Jidung (45), a leader of the regional Autonomous State Demand Committee (ASDC) in the custody of the Assam Rifles on Friday and asked for the report within 15 days.

The Assam Rifles is a paramilitary force that specialises in anti-insurgents operation in the North East and operates under the Indian Army. The ASDC is in power in North Cachar Hills Autonomous District Council (NCHADC).

Jadung was picked up by the Assam Rifles on Thursday on charges of having link with Dima Halam Daogah (Jewel Garlosa) or the Black Widow outfit and his body was handed over to the police by the paramilitary force on Friday triggering a fresh row.

A source in the Assam Rifles unit that picked up the ASDC leader maintains, “Jidung was picked up on Thursday and next day when his interrogation was begun he began behaving abnormally.

By the time we realised that he was a heart patient with high blood pressure, he collapsed during the interrogation. He was taken to the civil hospital at Haflong where he was declared brought dead.”

Meanwhile, various Dimasa tribe organisations, including the All Dimasa Students’ Union (ADSU) and the Dimasa tribe apex social body, the Jadikhe Naiso Hosom (JNH) today staged demonstration before the Deputy Commissioner demanding judicial probe into the custodial death and immediate arrest of the Assam Rifles officers involved in it.

The protesting organisations have also called for 12-hour bandh tomorrow in the district.

The organisations have demanded immediate stop to killing of innocent persons by security forces in the name of counter-insurgency operation that is reeling under insurgency related violence and ethnic strife.

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TN ADGP warns against attacks on military
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Sivaganga, May 3
Tamil Nadu police today warned of stern action against those indulging in false campaign against the Indian military, following incidents of stone-pelting on military trucks at Coimbatore yesterday.

Additional DGP (Law and order) Rajendran, in his warning, said military vehicles carrying about 200 military personnel, who were returning to Coimbatore, after training at Hyderabad, were blocked by a mob, which pelted stones and attacked the drivers, following rumours that the trucks were carrying weapons to be supplied to the Sri Lankan military.

This attack was due to the false campaign carried out by Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam, which had spread rumours that weapons in the trucks would reach Cochi, from where it would be transported to Colombo, the police official said. Some of the articles including clothes and materials used for tents were burnt and the vehicles were damaged by the people, who blocked the road, he said.

Four persons had been arrested and others involved in the incident would be arrested soon, he said. He warned that such actions against the Indian military would be seriously dealt with and said action would be taken on those resorting to false campaign against the nation's military.

The atmosphere in western districts of Tamil Nadu, where key Congress candidates including TNCC president K V Thangabalu and Union Minister EVKS Elangovan are in the fray, is very volatile, due to the allegations of opposition parties that the Centre was providing support to Sri Lankan military which is massacring Tamil civilians. 

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Fresh norms to check ragging today
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, May 3
The Supreme Court is expected to come out tomorrow with a fresh set of stringent guidelines, aimed at curbing the menace of ragging on campuses which recently claimed the life of 19-year-old Aman Satya Kachroo, a first year student at the Dr Rajendra Prasad Government Medical College, Tanda.

A Bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat, who retires on May 10, will issue the guidelines as part of its verdict on a bunch of petitions pertaining to ragging, which included such incidents in Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.

During the hearings, the Bench indicated that it would entrust the responsibility for preventing ragging and taking prompt and deterrent action in such cases with the respective Principals of educational institutions with the help of the local administration and the police.

The Bench, which also included Justice AK Ganguly, had reserved its verdict on April 23 after directing the Himachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh governments, educational regulatory bodies and the Amicus Curiae to put their heads together and evolve proposals for checking the scourge and submit them by April 27.

PIL on black money

A Bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan will hear the PIL, filed by former Law Minister Ram Jethmalani, former Punjab police chief KPS Gill and others seeking a directive to the government for taking steps to bring back Rs 70 lakh crore, which they say have been stashed in secret bank accounts in tax havens such as Switzerland.

The Finance Ministry filed its response to the PIL yesterday, acknowledging that details of some such accounts have been received from Germany on the condition that these would be used only for recovery of income and wealth tax and would not be made public.

The Ministry said it was also pursuing with Switzerland in order to get details of such accounts held in banks there by Indian citizens. All this showed that the government was not inactive on the issue as alleged in the politically-motivated PIL, the ministry said, praying for the dismissal of the petition with costs.

Quattrocchi issue

Advocate Ajay Agarwal is expected to seek urgent hearing of his petition against the CBI’s move in getting the name of Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, an accused in the Bofors payoff case, removed from the Interpol’s list of people against whom red corner notices for their arrest was pending.

The petition has charged the CBI with acting at the behest of the Centre, instead of functioning as an independent entity as envisaged in the Delhi Special Police Act under which it was set up.

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Post-Poll Speculation
Nitish may join UPA: Sheila
BJP refutes the Cong speculation as a ‘daydream’, JD(U) too denies 
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 3
A day after JD(U) president Sharad Yadav backed BJP leader LK Advani as NDA’s prime ministerial candidate, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit today set rife speculations about the future political course of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, an important ally of NDA, by hinting that he may join the UPA after elections.

Dikshit told a news channel that Nitish Kumar had hinted at joining the Congress, “but was yet to confirm it”. “He has hinted that he may join the UPA, but I have no idea if he will act on it or not. He will also wait to see which way poll results go,” she said, leading to a fresh guesswork in political circles that the JD(U) may sever ties with the BJP and join the UPA after the elections.

“Talks must be on between the Congress and Nitish Kumar at some level. But, the level and the scale of the talks are not known to me as I am not part of the negotiations.”

Notably, there have been reports that the Bihar Chief Minister has been in touch with the Congress for a possible post-poll alliance. While the JD(U) president appears to be more inclined toward the Left in case the party decided to abandon the NDA, Congress sources say Nitish had shown his keenness on going with them if such a situation arose.

However, BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar refuted the speculation as a “daydream”. “It is a democracy and there are is restriction on anybody’s dreaming in broad daylight. Anyone can imagine bizarre things... She (Shiela Dikshit) should take care of her own allies, who might join us. JD(U) has already said that they will make Advani the prime minister,” he asserted.

JD(U) national spokesperson Shivanand Tiwary has also denied the claims made by Dikshit.

With the Bihar Chief Minister growing in stature, his name has already been included in the list of prime ministerial probables by a section of his party leaders, who were apparently prompted by the fact that some BJP leaders had suggested the name of Gujarat CM Narendra Modi for the top job. This and the fact that the JD(U) may look for greener pastures after the elections is now giving rise to different permutation and combination ideas.

Nitish Kumar’s name was first floated by Tiwary at an election meeting a few days ago. The man at the centre of this latest debate, however, says that he does not nurse any such ambitions. “I am not in the race. I have no delusions about becoming the prime minister,” he says.

Since then, Tiwary has also clarified that Advani remained the prime ministerial candidate of the NDA. However, Advani, as Congress sources put it, may be NDA’s prime ministerial candidate but what was the guarantee that the JD(U) would be with the NDA after the elections. 

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Manmohan Singh is our choice for PM: Rahul

Barmer, May 3
Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi today said Manmohan Singh was UPA’s and Congress’ candidate for the post of Prime Minister, reaffirming the stand of the party leaders that there was no vacancy for the top job.

“Manmohan Singh is our PM, he is UPA’s PM,” Gandhi said while addressing a rally in support of the Congress candidate Harish Choudhury here. Taking a dig at the BJP’s ‘India Shining’ campaign in the last elections, Gandhi said, “NDA has India shining ideology - its own India for stock market, privatisation and the rich and the elite.”

Stating that Congress ideology was for the development, he said, “I can never say that India is shining till the time there is even one single poor person living in the country.”

Gandhi also questioned NDA’s commitment toward farmers, who formed a majority of the gathering today and said, “One of the leaders of the NDA’s former allies in Andhra Pradesh said the country did not need farmers as they were so many call centres operating there.”

On the nuclear deal issue, Rahul Gandhi said he was ridiculed by the NDA for taking after names of Shashikala and Kalawati in the parliamentary debate on the issue but “the electricity generated after the deal will help the poor to get richer”.

Stating that NDA had “forgotten” the farmer, Gandhi pointed out that the Congress-led UPA government had waived off farm loans worth Rs 70,000 crores and launched schemes such as NREGA and mid-day meal to benefit the farmers. — PTI 

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Candidates sweat it out as poll pitch touches peak
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, May 3
With the mercury soaring as high as 47 °C in some areas of the state, the politicians here are finding it tough to maintain the tempo of their poll campaign in the remaining few days ahead of the polling on May 7.

The blistering heat, which has broken all records, has left the politicians with no choice but to start their campaign early in the morning, take a little break when mercury reaches its peak, resume it in the evening only to wind it up late in the night.

The mercury has touched 47 °C in areas like Barmer and Alwar in the past few days and there is no sign of respite in the coming days.

The BJP candidate from the Tonk-Sawai Madhopur Lok Sabha seat, Kirori Singh Bainsla, had to be hospitalised in Tonk a couple of days back after he suffered a heat stroke.

He was referred to Jaipur hospital on the same evening. However, with the political temperature rising with each passing day he chose to ignore the bed rest advisory and left to address a public meeting in his constituency last evening. “I want to contest the elections with all might,” averred Bainsla while justifying his decision. The harsh summer also has the candidates and their supporters sweating it out to ensure at least impressive turnout in the rallies of their star campaigners.

However, it has turned out to be an uphill task for them. Rallies of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in Bikaner and Jodhpur and BJP president Rajnath Singh in Chittorgarh and Udaipur witnessed low turnouts.

To counter the vagaries of weather and subsequent decline in turnout in their rallies, the candidates have now gone in for a change in strategy.

They have started focusing more on door-to-door campaign and that too in the morning and evening hours.

“I begin my poll campaign as early as 6 in the morning and try to cover as much area as possible before the mercury reaches its zenith,” said the BJP candidate from Jaipur Lok Sabha seat.

Another reason that is bothering the candidates is the large number of marriages scheduled on May 7, the day of polling. They apprehend that the rising mercury coupled with marriages will take a toll on the voter turnout.

Therefore, they are making it a point to appeal the electorate to cast their vote in each rally they are addressing these days.

They are also exhorting the party workers to bring as many voters to the polling booth as they can. The political parties are more worried about the voters from urban areas, as they feel that the people in rural areas are accustomed to harsh desert life.

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No easy going for Raje’s son Dushyant this time
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 3
Donning a spotless white ‘kurta pyjama’, a traditional Rajasthani turban and his wife Niharika Kumari in toe, Jhalawar MP Dushyant Singh, son of former (Rajasthan) Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and the scion of Dholpur royal family, has been toiling hard to seek votes in the dust and heat of far-flung villages under his constituency.

Pitted against him is Urmila Jain, the wife of state Congress minister Pramod Jain Bhaya, who is known to be close not only to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot but also a local strongman responsible for the Congress’ emergence.

Incidentally, this constituency has become a seat of honour between former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. While Vasundhara is leaving no stone unturned to ensure the seat was won, Gehlot, too, had started campaigning here right from the beginning. In fact, Unrmila Jain’s name appeared in the first list that the party high command announced.

Dushyant, popularly known as ‘Raja Saheb’, is facing an acid test. With the Congress having emerged victorious in the last Assembly elections in the state, he has at stake the reputation of his mother. He is going about pointing to all the development that took place during his tenure and that of his mother.

A graduate from Delhi’s elite St Stephen’s College and an MBA (Hotel Administration) from Johnson and Wales University, USA, Dushyant has his hopes high. Traversing from one village to another, he is out to prove that the Congress win in six of the eight Assembly segments falling in his parliamentary constituency was just a “coincidence” and that the BJP still “ruled the roost” as far as Lok Sabha elections were concerned.

Notably, Vasundhara had been representing this princely state since 1989 but Dushyant took over the reins in the last general election. While canvassing he has no qualms in touching the feet of the elderly of the village, especially those from the Gujjar community who were annoyed with the Vasundhara Raje government for “failing the Gujjar agitation and not giving them their due”.

In a bid to win over the lost confidence, Dushyant declares, “Mein ek Gujjar parivar ka jawai hoon (I am a son-in-law of a Gujjar family).” His wife Niharika Kumari hails from a Gujjar family from the royal principality of Samthar in Uttar Pradesh. He is also quick to point to the decline in facilities during the last four months of Congress’ rule in the state.

In an effort to further assuage the feelings of the Gujjar community, the state BJP has taken back Prahlad Gunjal, who was thrown out from the party for being part of the Gujjar agitation and being a severe critic of Vasundhara Raje. The party has also taken in its fold a former BSP candidate, Ramsagar Nagar and former Independent candidate Mohan Meena. Through this, an effort has been made to align with the Jhakkar and the Meena community of the region.

On her part, Vansundhara has been harping upon the “misuse” of official machinery for polls and that people were under pressure to vote for the Congress. But in all the heat that is being generated in this princely town - known more for its opium vegetation - one thing is clear that both the BJP and the Congress are geared up to take on each other in the final run-up to the polls. 

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Demand for Cong-NCP split in M’rashtra grows
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, May 3
The Lok Sabha election results may be a fortnight away, but the Congress in Maharashtra is accusing the Nationalist Congress Party and its leader Sharad Pawar of betraying it. Of the 26 Lok Sabha seats it contested in Maharashtra, Congress party leaders are sure that Pawar's lieutenants worked against its candidates in at least a dozen. 

Party leaders say they have identified a number of seats where the NCP cadre wholeheartedly worked against Congress candidates.

Among the prominent Congress party candidates who are accusing the NCP of betrayal include Priya Dutt from Mumbai North Central, Milind Deora from Mumbai South, Pratik Patil Vasantdada Patil's grandson and candidate from Sangli, Nandurbar MP Manikrao Gavit and in the Thane and Kalyan constituencies outside Mumbai.

Congress party leaders have identified a number of NCP ministers in the Maharashtra cabinet who they allege worked against its candidates. Labour minister Nawab Malik, Home Minister Jayant Patil, Tribal Welfare Minister Vijaykumar Gavit and scores of local level leaders. 

“While Sharad Pawar participated in roadshows and rallies with our leaders, his workers were actively working against our candidates,” a senior Congress leader told this reporter. The politician said to be close to former Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh alleged that Pawar was playing a double game to reduce the Congress party's tally in Maharashtra in order to improve his own chances for the Prime Minister's post.

Congress leaders are also accusing the NCP of having a secret tie-up with the Samajwadi Party in order to split the Muslim votes in a number of seats. SP leaders Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh had earlier called for a tie-up with the NCP. Congress leaders say, the two parties entered into a secret deal.

Meanwhile Chief Minister Ashok Chavan has asked Minister for Non-Conventional Energy Vinay Kore to resign after he appealed for voters to back the candidates of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena in Mumbai and Thane. Kore heads the small Jan Surajya Party and is said to be close to Sharad Pawar.

Kore however hit back saying his party did not have any tie-up with the Congress party for the Lok Sabha elections and was thus free to back any candidate or party. 

Instead of resigning from the cabinet Kore has virtually challenged Chavan to drop him by saying he was in the team at the pleasure of Pawar. Days before the third phase of voting on April 30, Chavan had warned that the Congress party’s tie-up with the NCP was up for review amidst reports that ground-level co-ordination between the two outfits had collapsed.

Meanwhile the NCP has denied that its leaders worked against the Congress party's candidates. Party spokesman Gurunath Kulkarni told reporters today such allegations were complete nonsense. 

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Kalyan Issue
Lalu, Paswan, SP pact may take a beating
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, May 3
Even before the so-called fourth front could play its intended role as a kingmaker, the basic ideological differences are publicly cropping up vis-à-vis former Chief Minister Kalyan Singh’s relationship with the alliance partners- The Samajwadi Party and the Lok Janshakti Party- virtually threatening this fragile formulation.

Today, Lok Janshakti Party president Ramvilas Paswan tried to do some damage control by describing Kalyan Singh as a friend of Samajwadi party president Mulayam Singh Yadav and therefore one of them.

“Kalyanji will remain with us. He is with Mulayam Singh Yadav. Kalyan Singh has said that two big (BJP) leaders had given an assurance that such things (demolition of Babri Masjid) will not happen,” Paswan has said in Kalyan’s defence.

This has come in reaction to Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad Yadav’s strong indictment of Kalyan Singh for his role in the Babri Masjid demolition yesterday.

Calling him “a convict” in the Babri Masjid demolition case Lalu Yadav had said, “He (Kalyan) is a convict in the demolition of the Babri Masjid. He is not a member of the SP. Is he a member of SP?” Lalu had questioned when his opinion had been sought on Kalyan Singh’s call to Muslims to defeat the BJP.

In a belated reflection of events of 1992 Kalyan Singh in an interview to a private news channel has confessed that two senior BJP leaders had kept him in the dark about the Babri Masjid demolition.

Playing the caste card Kalyan Singh, now in hindsight, told the channel that he believed that this was done to remove him, a backward caste person, from the state’s Chief Minister’s post for breach of trust.

Prior to December 6 the then Chief Minister Kalyan Singh had given an undertaking to the Supreme Court to protect the monument at all costs.

Yesterday, the two former Chief Ministers who had once been in opposition camps addressed a series of joint election meetings in their respective constituencies of Etah, Mainpuri and areas of influence like Aligarh and Etawah.

Political observers believe that the basis of their newfound friendship is neither a change of heart nor a vision for the so-called ‘potato belt’ of the state. 

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A major coup
After Uma, Singhal, BJP ropes in Shekhawat
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 3
The BJP has pulled all stops to ensure its victory in the current round of elections. First it had welcomed Uma Bharti back as the campaigner for the party and now it has managed to persuade former Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat to issue an appeal for the party and its prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani.

Getting Shekhawat on their side was quite a Herculean task for both Advani and the BJP.

Just before the election campaign commenced Shekhawat a former chief minister of Rajasthan had publicly expressed his desire to contest elections from Jaipur as an independent and criticised the party leadership in his home state. He had directed his ire mainly at former chief minister and now leader of Opposition in Rajasthan assembly Vasundhra Raje.

He had even even accused the BJP of being corrupt and unresponsive to the people. When BJP president Rajanath Singh tried to play down Shekhawat’s public statements, the former Vice-President reminded that he had resigned from the party membership seven years ago when he contested and got elcted as the nation’s Vice President and, therefore, he was not bound by the party anymore.

But suddenly now Shekahwat issued a statement here yesterday saying, “At this critical juncture India needs a strong and stable government headed by a determined leader. Only a BJP-led government, with L.K. Advani as Prime Minister can safeguard the nation’s interests.”

Recalling Advani’s past association with Rajasthan, Shekhawat said, “In helping Advani become India’s next Prime Minister, you will be helping a leader who is a Rajasthani at heart. I assure you that a BJP-led government at the Centre will fully protect the interests of our state without any consideration for who is ruling in Jaipur.” Getting Shekhawat who had been sulking against the BJP for long, was a major coup, conceded party sources.

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Shoe Missile
Rajasthan on alert as stars descend
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, May 3
With the third phase of polling having ended, the focus of most of our national-level leaders or “stars” as they are called has now shifted to the constituencies that would go to polls in the fourth round of elections due on May 7 and that would include all the 25 Parliamentary seats in this princely state of Rajasthan.

While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has already visited the state in this context, some other stars, including Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi and those from the BJP, including LK Advani, are due to address rallies in various parts of the state over the next few days.

The state government, anticipating visits by the stars and the recent trend of shoe-throwing, has pulled up its socks to prevent any such untoward incident here.

The “shoegate” starting from Home Minister P Chidambaram has already had Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Opposition BJP leader LK Advani as among its victims. And the phenomenon just does not seem to be coming to an end.

This is precisely the reason that while the state government on one hand has been told to take all precautions to avoid any such incident here, the local party workers themselves are working overtime to evolve a strategy where their leaders do not face any threat from shoes.

The state police officials have been specifically told to keep a close watch on suspects. While men in uniform would be deployed all around the venue, men in plain clothes will keep a close eye on the crowd to ensure that no shoes or slippers are hurled.

A local office-bearer of one of the main political parties, who wishes to remain anonymous, said they were taking special steps to ensure such incidents don’t occur. The parties have decided to deploy alert party volunteers among the crowd to avoid such incidents.

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Decide on Guru’s mercy plea, Delhi told

New Delhi, May 3
Delhi government is likely to convey after the Lok Sabha polls its decision to the Centre on a mercy petition seeking commutation of death sentence of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru following a missive from the Union Home Ministry.

Sources in the Delhi government's Home Department said the Union Home Ministry had recently written to the state government asking it to take a final decision on the petition by Guru's wife Tabasum that has been pending for the last three years and expedite its comments.

The BJP has been targeting the Congress on the delay in taking a decision on the petition which is pending with the President because the Home Ministry has not yet given its comment on the matter.

The MHA says it is awaiting the comments of Delhi government because as per the rules, the comments of the government of the state where the crime has been committed has to be taken before deciding on a mercy petition.

"The MHA keeps sending us the demi-official (DO) note in the Afzal Guru matter every two to three months. We received the latest in April asking us to take a final decision and expedite the comments," the sources said.

Asked when a final decision would be taken on the mercy petition, they said, "Most likely soon after the elections." Guru was sentenced to death by a Delhi Court for his role in the December 13, 2001 attack on Parliament in which nine security personnel were killed and 16 others were seriously injured.

The sentence which was to be carried out on October 20, 2006, as per the court order, was stayed because of mercy petition filed by Guru's wife.

A senior Delhi Government official said it is taking time for them to send their views on the petition as it involves "so many technicalities".

"We are working on our responses to the file pertaining for Guru's mercy petition," the official said.

Police had arrested Delhi University lecturer S A R Geelani, Mohammad Afzal, Shaukat Hussain and his wife Navjot Sandhu on December 15, 2001 for their involvement in the attack.

A laptop and Rs 10 Lakh was also recovered from Afzal and Shaukat in Srinagar. — PTI 

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No swine flu case in India
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 3
The Health Ministry today said no case of swine flu had been reported in India and clinical samples of suspected flu cases tested so far had proved negative. Health authorities in the Capital also confirmed that none of the six suspected cases of swine flu here had tested positive for the infection.

A ministry official said: “As of now, no case has been reported in India. The clinical samples tested so far have been negative for Influenza A (H1N1) and the situation is being monitored. A passenger screened at Hyderabad airport has been referred to the identified hospital. The clinical samples tested so far have been negative for Influenza A.”

The six samples of suspected flu cases in Delhi were found negative on Saturday. Medical Superintendent of Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital NK Chaturvedi said the samples of the last patient, a London-based NRI, were found negative on Saturday evening like of the other five. “We have discharged him early this morning,” he said adding that as of now there was no patient in the hospital’s swine flu ward.

The health screening of passengers coming from affected countries is continuing at 21 international airports at Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bangalore, Calicut, Chennai, Cochin, Coimbatore, Delhi, Varanasi, Goa, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mangalore, Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, Srinagar, Trichy and Trivandrum. As many as 41,012 passengers have been screened by 140 doctors and 101 paramedics deployed to man 59 counters at the airports.

The World Health Organisation has reported 658 laboratory confirmed cases of influenza A/H1N1 infection with 17 deaths from 16 countries. There are 160 laboratory confirmed human cases in the USA with one death. Mexico has reported 397 cases, including sixteen deaths.

The other countries which have reported laboratory confirmed cases with no deaths are: Austria (1), Canada (51), Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region of China) (1), Costa Rica (1) Denmark (1), France (2), Germany (6), Israel (3), Netherlands (1), New Zealand (4), Republic of Korea (1) Spain (13), Switzerland (1) and United Kingdom (15).

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No Tamiflu sale here, but can be exported

New Delhi, May 3
In an irony of sorts, though the Government has banned procurement and sale of Tamiflu, the wonder drug for the deadly H1N1 virus, by private companies within the country, manufacturers are allowed to export the medicine.

The Central Government maintains that Oseltamivir, the generic version of Tamiflu, is not allowed to be distributed through private channels in India as experts have warned that its indiscriminate use can result in the virus developing resistance to the medicine.

However, the export of the medicine is not forbidden by law and thus foreign companies can come and acquire cheaper generic version of the drug from India.

In fact, the Department of Pharmaceuticals held a meeting with drug manufacturers on May 1 and decided on the course of action when approached by any such foreign firm, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Health Vineet Chaudhary told PTI.

He said the Government has decided to stockpile 10 million doses of Tamilflu and the pharmaceuticals department has directed the manufacturers to first fulfill that quota and then think about exporting.

Director Indian Council for Medical Research V N Katoch had earlier said, "We do not want the drug to be used indiscriminately thus after much deliberation it has been decided that only government hospitals and agencies would supply the drug".

Katoch said, "As of now the drug is highly effective against both Avian influenza and H1N1 flu. Its indiscriminate use will lead to the virus developing resistance against the medicine". — PTI

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H1N1 flu: A deadly cocktail of viruses

New Delhi, May 3
The much-dreaded H1N1 flu which is spreading fear across the globe is actually a deadly cocktail of three viruses namely Avian flu, human flu and swine flu making difficult to contain it.

According to Dr VN Katoch, Director Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) several influenza viruses keep on circulating among human, birds and animals like pigs and keep on recombining and reasserting with each others. These changes cause genetic variations among these viruses and new viruses emerge in this process.

“Most of the time this recombination does not cause much effect and goes unnoticed. But sometimes (as in present case) their capacity increase manifold and that is when they cause major damage to its carriers,” he said.

Katoch said the last time the world saw the emergence of such a virus was in 1918 when the Spanish flu outbreak wiped off nearly 50-100 million people in Europe.

Observing that in the recent case of flu outbreak, it has not been ascertained how the virus has recombined, the scientist said, while screening the suspected H1N1 patients doctors look for the genetic structure of the virus. “If it is same to that of H1N1 then the patient is infected with it,” he said.

The sequencing of the virus has been done in the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta. The CDC in its analysis has said the classical swine flu is a respiratory disease caused by the influenza type A virus that regularly causes outbreaks of influenza in pigs. This virus was first isolated in pigs in 1930.

It says like all influenza viruses, swine flu virus changes constantly. Pigs can be infected by avian influenza and human influenza as well. “In fact, it is possible that the virus got mutated when it got transferred to some human at a pig farm,” Katoch said.

In the past, CDC received reports of approximately one human influenza virus every one or two years, but since December 2005, 12 cases of human infection with swine flu have been reported.

The threat this time around, according to experts, is that the infection has been spreading from human to human, the senior scientist has said. The only way to prevent the flu spread in a country like India is to prevent the virus from entering the country. — PTI 

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Water Crisis In Ranchi
Braving heat, Dhoni Sr repairs hand pumps

Ranchi, May 3
Narendra Dhoni, elder brother of Indian cricket skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, is busy repairing hand pumps here this summer to help people overcome the prevailing water crisis.

The water level has fallen from the earlier around 15 feet to 40 feet in Jharkhand due to the blistering heat. And adding to the woes of the people, majority of hand pumps are no longer functional as a result in the state capital Ranchi.

The residents here have to stand in long queues for water from the hand pumps and water tankers.

Braving the scorching sun, Narendra Dhoni was seen busy repairing hand pumps. In Ranchi, the temperature soared to 43 degrees Celsius 
on Saturday.

"I am comfortable doing a plumber's work. It is our traditional work. My father was a pump operator. I am repairing hand pumps to satisfy the thirst of the people," said Narendra, who repaired three hand pumps in Hatia locality of Ranchi 
on Saturday.

Aneeta Devi, a resident of Hatia locality, said: "Narendra's move is a lesson for the government. He is a brother of the Indian cricket captain and he is repairing hand pumps to help the residents. We cannot forget his gesture."

Last month, Narendra joined and campaigned for the BJP here. His move is seen as an attempt to woo the voters for the upcoming assembly 
elections. —IANS

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Make law on rape more stringent: HC

New Delhi, May 3
Concerned with the lesser sentences given to culprits committing sexual assault of different forms due to absence of a stricter law, Delhi High Court has asked the Centre to consider the Law Commission report and include "digital rape" while widening the definition of rape.

"Unfortunately the criminal law of our country does not recognise this form (digital rape) of sexual assault as a heinous crime. As a result, the culprit get convicted for use of criminal force to outrage the modesty of a woman," Justice S Muralidhar observed.

Digital rape is inserting finger into the victim's private part.

"It is a matter of grave concern that nothing has been done till date...Absence of stringent law to deal with impunity," the court said.

The court made the observation while dismissing an appeal filed by 54-year-old Tara Dutt, father of four daughters, who was convicted of committing digital rape on a five-year-old relative in 1996. "The growing instances in the recent past of sexual assault of minors, should serve as a wake up call to make the appropriate amendments to the IPC without further delay," Muralidhar observed while suggesting that legislators comply with the Law Commission report submitted nine years ago.

The High Court directed to send a copy of its judgement on the case to the Secretary, Union Ministry of Law and Justice and the Tihar Jail Superintendent for their perusal. — PTI 

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Heat wave delays tiger relocation to Sariska

New Delhi, May 3
Unrelenting heat wave in North India has put a halt on Rajasthan government’s plan to relocate a tiger from Rathambore National Park to Sariska sanctuary with state officials preferring to wait till monsoon to execute the task.

“There was a proposal to shift second male tiger in the beginning of this month in the park. But it is now not advisable in view of intense heat conditions in the Northern state. The plan has been put on hold for at least next two months till monsoon,” National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) member secretary Rajesh Gopal said.

Pointing to the reason behind the move, he said: “Tigers can suffer sunstroke or die if we try to trap them for translocation purpose. We also don’t want to disturb its habitat as it can be fatal given the animal has to be darted and tranquilised before it is airlifted. It will also be taxing for our men to do the work successfully in this heat wave condition,” he said.

“Last time, we had executed the task during monsoon when the weather was favourable for the animal. We will again wait for rains as the onset of summer this year has witnessed temperatures soaring beyond 43 degrees celsius,” Gopal added.

Presently there are three big cats - a male and two females - in the wilds of Sariska as part of the government efforts to revive the population of the endangered species.

A total of five predators, three males and two females, have to be introduced by the end of this year as suggested by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII).

Sarsika lost all its striped animals by 2004 to poachers and excess human interference in the sanctuary. Last year, a tiger and two tigress, fitted with radio collar to monitor their movement, were successfully relocated from Ranthambore to Sariska, spread over 800 sq km with a core area of around 500 sq km. — PTI 

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BRIEFLY

20 held for attack on Army convoy
COIMBATORE:
At least 20 pro-LTTE activists were arrested Sunday morning for attack on an Army convoy near here a day ago, the police said. Cases have been registered against 200 people belonging to political groups sympathetic to the banned LTTE. The arrested include Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam and Tamil nationalist leader K Ramakrishnan, police sources added. Supporters of the Tamil Tigers on Saturday stopped five Army trucks here carrying ammunition and personnel on way back from training in Secunderabad in Andhra Pradesh. They were on their way to Thiruvananthapuram. The angry protesters threw stones causing minor damages to a couple of trucks. — IANS

Karuna hospitalised
SIVAGANGA:
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK chief M Karunanidhi was admitted to Apollo hospital in Chennai on Sunday morning due to high fever. According to DMK sources, he complained of severe back pain also. An official press release said the Chief Minister was “slightly ill” due to fever and had been admitted to the hospital following doctor’s advice. His condition was reported to be normal and doctors were monitoring him. It also requested party men not to visit him and cooperate for his speedy recovery. — TNS

BR Chopra Films sued
MUMBAI:
Hollywood’s famous studio 20th Century Fox has moved the Bombay High Court against BR Chopra Films seeking Rs 7-crore damages and an injunction against the release of the Hindi film ‘Banda Yeh Bindaas Hai’ alleging it was a remake of Oscar-winning ‘My Cousin Vinny’. The suit will come up for hearing on May 7 before the High Court. This is for the first time that a Hollywood studio has sued an Indian production house for alleged plagiarism and copyrights violation. BR Chopra Films, in its reply, denied the allegations. — PTI

Closure of zoo sought
MUMBAI:
Describing the condition of the civic body-run zoo in the city as pathetic, several animal rights groups have suggested that it be shut down. People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has appealed to the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) to close down the zoo in Byculla area, a tourist attraction, as the authorities have failed to maintain it properly. “This zoo needs to be closed as the staff is unable to take care of the animals. They want to bring in more animals to get more visitors and money but who will take care of the animals?” asked PETA Chief Functionary Anuradha Sawhney. — PTI 

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